How to Make a Hotel Website? Wix, WordPress or a Custom Content Management System?

Last updated Oct 5, 2019 | Published on Aug 31, 2018

Pavla Bartonova, author of the article
Pavla Bartonova
Founder

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. 

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.

Online website builders are hosted online, in the cloud (online storage) as a so called SaaS (Software as a Service).

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..

Wix Hotels app screenshot

Wix App Market offers many exten­sions to your hotel website, includ­ing a room booking app. Read care­ful­ly to find out what this app can or cannot do for you. For more advanced booking solu­tions consid­er cloud based (SaaS) booking engines.

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.

WordPress, Joomla, Drupal to name just the top 3 of a wide selec­tion, are usually free of charge, and can be customized as you wish.

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.

Based on market share statis­tics, the most popular content manage­ment system is WordPress, used by over 28% of all websites on the inter­net, followed by Joomla and Drupal. – Wikipedia

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.

WordPress admin backend screenshot
WordPress admin­is­tra­tion inter­face

This is what it looks like when you log in to the WordPress back-end as an admin to edit your website. A simple navi­ga­tion menu on the left.

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.

Conclusion

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.

Your say. Share with us your experience building your hotel website. What is your favourite tool? Biggest challenge?

2 Comments

  1. web

    I am constant­ly search­ing online for ideas that can facil­i­tate me. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Pavla Bartonova

      Thank you for your words, very nice to hear from you! Glad if the article could be of help.

      Reply

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