How to Make a Hotel Website? Wix, WordPress or a Custom Content Management System?
There are countless tools nowadays to choose from to make a hotel website and countless web design providers that offer custom solutions.
WordPress, Joomla, Wix, Weebly, this website builder and that one!
Isn’t it a headache to try to find out how to actually make your own hotel (or any other) website the right way?
We’ll tell you, totally overwhelming!
But we put together this guide to help you easily decide on your own solution.
We made a list of 4 website categories/tools, including 2 most popular ones to create a hotel website: website builders (i.e. Wix) & web CMSs (i.e. WordPress) – tools that make web design easier, faster and more affordable.
And choosing the right solution for your hotel website all comes down to these:
Current state of your hotel, your future plans, your hotel’s needs & your budget.
With the help of these tools, you can either make a hotel website yourself, or have it made by a web developer/web designer and manage it yourself afterwards.
In the case of a self-made website you will need some technical skills & at least some esthetic talent.
Now the big QUESTION:
“So which tool is the right one for my hotel website”?
PS: This article focuses merely on websites and leaves out hotel software such as booking engines, channel managers, CRMs etc.
Website categories according to tools used
1. An HTML website without a content management system (CMS)
WARNING – don’t go this way!
I mention this type of website because we saw so many hotel websites made this way!
Managing such a website will be VERY, VERY difficult for you.
This is not a suitable and flexible option for a modern website because for those who need to manage this website and edit its content, coding knowledge is necessary and editing is complicated.
A website nowadays requires a back-end functionality, a content management system. That’s the private part of your website where you login as an administrator and manage your content from there – edit text, add images, add pages etc.
2. A website made with a website builder
Wix, Squarespace, Weebly, Vintcer , Jimdo and many others. This also includes your web hosting company website builders offered with your web hosting plans and some website builders offered by hotel booking engine providers.
Online website builders: easy to use, great for the start, but with limitations.
Website builders are tools that typically allow the construction of websites without manual code editing.
Convenient, user-friendly, easier to use.
They usually involve a drag-and-drop editor.
A good DIY solution if you have the time.
There are two types: online or offline website builders.
Let’s focus on the ONLINE website builders, as they are more convenient.
They come with free premade hotel templates but you can also hire a web designer to customize your design.
When you work on your website, you need internet connection.
Web hosting, SSL certificate and other features are usually included in the monthly fee.
You do not need to install your website yourself on a web hosting server.
You usually pay monthly fees as long as you use the provider’s service.
It is a low cost solution for a short-term use, but not so low-cost in the long run.
On top of that, the number of available features tends to be limited, which makes this choice suitable mostly for smaller and simpler websites, both personal or business.
Our tip: use templates especially made for hotels – as opposed to multi-purpose templates – it will make your life much easier.
Our opinion is that online website builders such as Wix are the future of the web design – we expect them to develop, become feature-rich and grow template and app selection.
BUT – it might take some time.
A little warning: it is often advertised that your website will be up and running in a few hours.
The prosaic truth is – if you are not technically skilled and do not posses a great aesthetic talent or typography knowledge, you can easily waste a lot of time making a website which will still look unprofessional.
The devil is in the detail and your visitors are not blind.
Remember – your website is a trust building tool beside other, so you don’t want to take risks.
It will pay off if you approach your web presentation with utmost care.
Trust us, typographical errors and inconsistencies can cost you the customers’ trust.
Wix is probably the most famous online website builder thanks to the celebrities in their ads (such as the funny Gal Gadot & Jason Statham commercial).
When it comes to hotel websites, the advantage of Wix over the other website builders is that it offers a booking app for hotels called Wix Hotels.
Is Wix a CMS? Wix is a website building platform, and works differently than other content management systems. Wix does have components and applications that function as part of a CMS, but Wix itself is design-driven and, as such, is not a ‘pure’ CMS. – Wix Help Center
Looking at Wix website, they offer (at the moment of writing this article) 14 templates for hotels and B&Bs, and 8 templates for apartments and hostels.
Subscription will cost you from approximately $14 (€12.50) a month (Unlimited Plan for Entrepreneurs & Freelancers).
From the Wix App Market, you can add quite a few useful apps for a hotel website.
Already mentioned Wix Hotels (free, or premium starts from $10), Wix Pro Gallery (Free), Wix Get Subscribers (to grow your mailing list with a signup form, free), Wix Video (free or paid for $9), Wix Bookings (free, or premium starts from $20 – this could be used, for example, to book your spa).
Vintcer has 5 lodging templates. Pricing: $15 per year, or $30 one-time (forever).
On Squarespace, we found only one simple template called Five in the section Home & Living. Pricing: around $20 per month ($240 per year).
On Weebly we found one template for B&B called Bayside Inn. Pricing: around $26 per month ($312 per year).
Who is this solution good for
A small starting B&B or hotel that needs a fast cheap solution for the beginning and doesn’t mind migrating their website to a more advanced solution later.
A smaller accommodation provider with just a few rooms that are usually sold out through other online channels such as booking.com, airbnb, and doesn’t mind updating their channels’ sales manually.
A smaller property that doesn’t do much marketing, i.e. a blog, email marketing..
3. Web content management system (web CMS, WCMS) website
(PS: we are talking about ready-made freely available open source web CMSs).
Web CMS, simply said, is a web application that is designed to help website owners manage and control a large amount of text content, images and other elements of a website through a private administration part, without the knowledge of coding.
This could be said about website builders, too.
However Web CMSs are more flexible, offer more advanced solutions and are suitable for larger projects.
Using such an off-the-shelf web CMS as a base for your website can save you money – having a custom CMS made just for you would cost you much more.
Web CMSs are great for both simple websites as well as for advanced projects.
There are 2 options to make a hotel website using freely available CMSs.
Option 1 – hire a web design agency to either design a custom look for you (or customize a ready-made template).
Option 2 – make a hotel website on your own (if you have no experience, not recommended, you will be pulling your hair.)
If you choose to make a hotel website with the help of any web CMS on your own, you will pay the following fees:
- domain name ($15-$35 per year),
- web hosting ($7-$14 per month),
- SSL certificate for your domain (from $0 to hundreds of dollars, yearly),
- hotel design template ($20-$299),
- some functionality plugins (usually their premium versions and their yearly subscriptions, if you need them, most of them between $50-$120 a year, /however, you do not always need to renew yearly subscriptions/).
With plugins, you can add almost any feature you wish to your website. The choice of hotel templates is wider than what website builders’ providers offer.
Web CMSs need to be installed on your web hosting server.
Your web CMS and its plugins will need to be regularly updated to keep your website secure (though such an update usually involves just a one-click action on the admin’s part).
Once you learn this or have someone do it for you, you can do much more with a web CMS than you could with a website builder.
You can build a more robust hotel website and you will have more control over the final result in the long run.
The additional effort may be well worth it.
It is our humble opinion that WordPress is easier on the user than Joomla or Drupal.
The administration part has more intuitive and simpler structure, better for DIY websites.
All the above mentioned CMSs have their own communities of enthusiasts who contribute to make them better by developing templates and plugins.
It is fairly easy to find a web designer or web developer who can work on your website and make it according to your wishes.
You can also find countless tutorials, articles, instruction videos to learn from.
You will want to use a good quality premade hotel template with your web CMS. Such a template was created with hotel needs in mind and most probably will contain pages and elements that are important for hotels (rooms, events, facilities, reviews), hotel rooms image gallery, a good contact page with a map etc.
BEWARE – not all templates are created equally well, so it is worth doing a bit of research.
If your first impression of the template is that it looks crappy and doesn’t resize well on your mobile (YES – you should check this!) – DON’T BUY IT!
For hotels, B&Bs and other properties that need automation and want to save time managing different channels, we suggest using a web CMS in combination with a well made hotel template, a visual page builder plugin (it will make editing your website easier), a third party cloud booking engine and a channel manager (usually monthly fees apply or a percentage from a room rate).
Who is this solution good for
Most hotels, especially if they care about direct bookings.
Properties that want to build their name and compete.
Properties that need more advanced marketing tools.
Properties that use a blog as a marketing tool.
Big hotels with lots of bookings who need a prestigious website.
4. Custom made CMS or web CMS
Custom made CMS/WCMS websites (not based on open source web CMS such as WordPress), are great and sometimes totally necessary for complex projects, when the use of an off-the-shelf CMS is not sufficient.
You want a custom CMS when complicated custom functions and features are needed.
They are usually pricey as there is usually a lot of work to be done.
Nowadays, developers use various frameworks with premade modules that they put together to create a unique product for your needs.
Usually they are customized for big organizations and they can power the entire business workflows.
Often they are not just an application to manage your website (web CMS), but a piece of software to support your entire business operations like HR department needs, staff portals etc. (CMS).
They also have their disadvantages though.
One of them might be paying for any added feature (while the same feature might be much cheaper or even free in the form of a ready plugin if you had used an off-the-shelf web CMS).
For more information, this is a good article about custom content management system development.
Who is this solution good for
Hotels and resorts who need CMS crafted for their needs. Such CMS can manage not only their website but other business operations.
As a hotel owner or manager, you have mostly two major software tool options to create your hotel website with, a website builder or a web CMS.
Website builders are a faster solution (you need a website quickly), easier but limited.
Web CMSs are suitable for both simple or advanced projects, but they need a bit of technical skills to install the software on a hosting server, to set up a database, to install and set up a hotel design template and functionality plugins. On the plus side, web CMSs build more robust and flexible websites.
The ideal solution for a hotel of any size, as we see it, is a combination of a web CMS and a custom made design or a quality hotel template.
To decide whether your website will be self-made or you will hire a web developer, you will need to answer this question:
“Do I have the skills and the time to make my own website or should I spend the time doing other things my business depends on and I am better at?”
Look & Feel Agency offers hotel websites made with WordPress web CMS with a design custom made for your property so your website functions and looks exactly as you need. See our prices.