WordPress plugin (article)

Susana Moleón Moya
Susana Moleón Moya
  • Updated

What is WordPress?

WordPress is a popular website content management system. Features include a plugin architecture and a template system, referred to within WordPress as Themes.

From https://wordpress.org/ :

“WordPress is open source software you can use to create a beautiful website, blog, or app.”

WordPress plugins

WordPress' plugin architecture allows users to extend the features and functionality of a website or blog. Over 55,000 plugins add features like online stores, galleries, mailing lists, forums, analytics, and much more.

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WordPress Themes

WordPress users may install and switch among different themes from the two categories: free or premium ones. Themes allow users to change the WordPress website's look and functionality without altering the core code or site content. A theme can be a "child" theme that inherits settings from another theme and selectively overrides features. 

WordPress users may also create and develop their own custom themes. If you want to learn more about WordPress theme development, please take a look at this article.

Examples:

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Our TourCMS team has developed a child theme to extend the original “Twenty Ten” theme to work more closely with the TourCMS WordPress plugin. 

You must install both the main theme and the child theme in your WordPress install; once both are installed, choose the child theme. 

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The plugin provides two hookable functions. If you are developing your own theme or extending the standard one, you can find the hooks that can be added to your templates here.

 

What is the WordPress TourCMS plugin?

The TourCMS plugin provides an easy way to pull product descriptions, images, prices, booking links, etc.

out of TourCMS and into the WordPress environment in a way that WordPress designers and developers should find familiar.

While it is possible (and often faster!) to add TourCMS booking/inquiry functionality to your WordPress-powered website without using this plugin, it does offer some advantages:

Features

  • Manage descriptions and images in one place (TourCMS), have changes visible automatically on your website (particularly beneficial if you have lots of Tours and/or are looking to distribute via the TourCMS Marketplace)
  • Works with WordPress Multi-site, pull different languages/descriptions/brands from TourCMS on each site. The plugin is configurable in WordPress. It supports multisites to connect your Spanish WordPress site to your Spanish channel and your international WordPress site to your English channel.
  • Display the tour location in Google maps and a calendar with available dates via widgets.
  • The WordPress TourCMS plugin was designed for WordPress 3.0 and above and frequently updated to support the latest features. It also works for the last PHP version, PHP8.

     

Alternatives

There are other alternatives to build your website:

Keep it simple, just add booking links

  • Use the booking engine links that you can add to your existing WordPress page. Each TourCMS account includes the TourCMS Booking Engine  which makes it easy to add online booking capability to any website, regardless of CMS used. Essentially each product that you load into TourCMS can have a unique "Book now" link which you could add to your existing WordPress powered product pages. There is no need to use the TourCMS plugin in this case.
  • If you are running a blog and looking to list travel products alongside your blog posts, take a look at the TourCMS Marketplace widgets  The Marketplace Widgets can be added to templates, pages/posts or sidebar widgets without having to write any code.
  • For more complex websites, TourCMS includes it's own templating engine and XML API (as used by the WordPress plugin)

Benefits of the WP TourCMS plugin over other options:

  • Google map widget to display the tour location
  • Availability widget to display the calendar
  • All the content in one place, so you can manage your portfolio (descriptions, dates, prices, etc.) from TourCMS.
  • Supports WordPress multisite feature
  • Short codes and tour information saved as custom meta data. Here you can find the full list of short codes.

Installation

Manually

Download the latest version of the plugin from its WordPress.org page, in WordPress admin head to Plugins > Add New then under the Upload tab browse and upload the zip file, then Activate plugin.

Via the WordPress plugin directory

To install, head to Plugins > Add New in WordPress Admin and search for TourCMS, locate the plugin, and click Install Now; once the plugin is installed, click Activate next to the plugin.

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Settings

First of all, it is essential to have the API enabled for that channel in Homepage > Configuration > System& setup > API

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After installing and activating the plugin, you should have a new “TourCMS plugin” section under the “Setting” menu, where you need to enter:

  • API settings: Channel ID and API key. 

For testing purposes, you can use our test Tour Operator account, which is as follows:

Channel ID: 3930

API Key: 0df0db4dc340

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  • Booking engine settings

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Please note, that it's possible to select the standard design or the beta booking engine one, which requires access to the TourCMS beta environment.

Booking engine:

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For more advanced integration information, see the template hooks page.

  • Video Embedding default settings

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  • Cache settings

Wordpress downloads and stores various pieces of information about your Tours from TourCMS, such as codes, prices, descriptions, etc. To keep your website running nice and fast this information is cached and only updated either when you edit the Tour/Hotel in WordPress, or when a certain amount of time has elapsed since the last update.

The Update TourCMS info setting lets you control this behaviour, you can tell WordPress to download the information if it's not been updated for 24 hours, 4 hours, 1 hour or only when you edit the Tour/Hotel. The default is every 4 hours.

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How to upload products

Once you have configured the plugin settings, you should see a new "Tours" menu in WordPress Admin; expand Tours and click Add new.

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1. Please enter a title for your Tour/Hotel (it's a good idea to make this the same as the Tour name in TourCMS).

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2. Enter a description for the Tour/Hotel; you can use shortcodes to insert information from TourCMS.

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3. Enter an excerpt; this will be displayed when your visitors are looking at a list of Tours on your website and should be a brief summary.

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4. In the TourCMS section, choose the TourCMS product you are loading; once you have saved the Tour/Hotel, this section will show additional information about the Tour/Hotel, retrieved from TourCMS.

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5. Click Update or Save Draft (at the top right side of the screen).

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You should now be able to click View Post or the View Tour/Hotel button to take a look at your tour online.

Tags

You can assign one or more Tags to your tours. This aids in navigation and allows tours to be grouped with others of similar content. Tag names must be unique.

Tags are displayed in the widgets areas according to your Appearance settings. When one your customers click on one of these Tag links, a Tag archive page with all the tours belonging to that Tag, will be displayed. In addition, the Tag Cloud Widget can be added to the sidebar to display all the Tags used in a cloud (Tags sized by number of times reference in tours).

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Product Type & Location

When you create/edit your products in WordPress, you should see a box labeled Product Types and a box labeled Locations; these are known in WordPress as "Taxonomies" and are particularly useful for building your site navigation (main menu). Say, for example, you offer a selection of Tours; you can quickly create pages that list all of your Day Tours, your Sightseeing Tours, or all of your Transfers.

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You can create new Product Types and Locations either by typing them directly when you edit each Tour/Hotel:

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or via the Product Types and Locations Menu in the Tours section of WordPress admin:

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The latter method allows you to load a description against each; this description will be displayed to your visitors if you use the TourCMS theme.

Once you have created your Product Types and Locations, you will find that the Tour/Hotel edit page auto-completes as you type; this makes loading a lot quicker (and less error-prone!)

As mentioned, you do not have to create any Product types or Locations; however, it can be quite useful when building your site menu, especially if you have more than a handful of products.

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Menu navigation

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WordPress widgets

Setup

The widget is included in the TourCMS plugin. To add it to your website, just head to the Admin area of your site and in "Appearance"> "Widgets", drag the widget to one of the available Widget Areas. For sites with a sidebar, the top of the sidebar works well.

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Tour Map widget

Displays the starting location of the Tour on an interactive map using Google Maps. The map can be dragged, zoomed, or viewed in various modes ("Map", "Satellite", "Terrain" etc.). 

The widget will only appear on Tour pages.

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You will need to request a free Google Maps API Key from Google, the Map will work without this for testing purposes, however it will display a warning message. Once you have a key just add it to the Widget via its settings page, here you can also configure the title for the widget and its default zoom settings.

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Availability widget

This displays a simple two year month by month calendar, showing which months currently have availability (up to 12 months in advance). Clicking on one of the available months loads the booking engine, depending on your Plugin setup page's selections. 

The Widget will only appear on Tour pages.

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TourCMS Marketplace widgets

The TourCMS Marketplace Widgets also work with WordPress, these are small snippets of JavaScript that can be generated in TourCMS to do things like list Tours or show lead in prices. Particularly handy if you plan to use the blog parts of WordPress and want to list some of your Tours along side.

Marketplace Widgets can be added to templates, posts/pages (with sufficient permission) or to "Text" Widgets.

Adding the widgets

To add the widgets you need to go to Appearance > Widgets and drag and drop them to the desired widget area.

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WordPress vs TourCMS API

The WordPress plugin offers limited functionalities. It is not as powerful as the TourCMS API tool. For instance, on a website built on WordPress, it is not possible to look for a tour within the list of tours. This is one of the reasons why WP is most suitable if you have less than 50 tours or so. If you offer more than 50 tours, you will probably want a more powerful integration as your customers will want to search by location/dates & other criteria.

Example: Customer using WordPress

 

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For more information, download our WordPress usage manual here.