Elk House

The houses available for rent in Colorado are, by and large, breathtaking. From simple cabins to 15-bedroom chalets, there’s no shortage of top-shelf vacation properties for those who are willing to pay for it.

What I can’t understand is why so many of these magnificent properties are rented through stock-and-trade websites like VRBO. I don’t imagine the owners of these places are very happy with the bland taste left in their potential renters’ mouths after they look through a few thumbnail pictures, surrounded by drab text and Google ads for ski rentals.

The Elk House owners wanted to stand out from the pack, and while they will still show up on sites like VRBO (their Google search ranking is simply too high to ignore) they now have a much better place to send potential renters: their custom website.

The Reservation System

Using jQuery and AJAX, I built a WordPress plugin that provides an incredibly simple and intuitive front-end interface that integrates nicely with a back-end administration area.

Essentially, the front-end calendar knows what each day is worth and which days are already reserved. A potential renter can select their start/end dates and get a price right away. Then they give their name/email address, and the property manager is alerted that there’s a new reservation request that must be dealt with.

Since every reservation request is routed through the property manager, there’s a human at the end of the process. This obviates the need for extensive security measures to prevent people from trying to get a free night by changing the price that winds up in the database. Knowing what can be left out of the design/development process is just as important as thinking about what to put into it, especially when you’re a freelancer.

Time is money, and you don’t get extra credit for making things more complex than they need to be.