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  • Writer's pictureMichael Fox

Wix Hotels For Small Hospitality Businesses

Is the current booking method sustainable or harming the small hospitality market?

It's easy to understand why hospitality business owners engage with the major travel agencies for marketing, booking and selling rooms off the Internet, the current method has evolved over many years and is established and accepted by owners for promoting the current trend, all inclusive package holidays! What is difficult to comprehend is why hospitality owners accept the high fees travel companies charge for their services coupled with the reality of the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on travel inevitably poses issues for all players in the tourism industry. As restrictions begin to loosen around the world, hotel brands may be starting to see some glimmers of hope. The introduction of deconfinement plans and relaxed travel restrictions are clearly impacting hotel booking patterns and trends. The situation is different in each market and evolving rapidly, sometimes daily. In this unprecedented situation, there is a clear need for the small hospitality owner to start the process of redefining the way they run their business by making the best decisions for their hotel brand to kick-start recovery.

What can the small hospitality owner do to avoid paying excessive booking fees?

Direct booking is gaining popularity and momentum amongst forward thinking owners who see the positive benefits it provides. One such system developed and promoted by Wix Hotels is an all-in-one online Booking System that will revolutionise a hospitality business. It gives small properties - B&B's, boutique hotels, vacation rentals- control of booking and reservations management. Guests can make reservations - directly off an owners website without linking and leaving to book through a third party and here's the good news owners get to retain 100% of the revenue generated.

Initial booking fees go directly into owners bank accounts resulting in improved cash-flows, no more credit arrangements or waiting endless days for payments. It also alleviates the current uncertainty surrounding the travel industry at the moment and gives owners more control over their business and its future!

The overriding benefit of a direct booking system is it gives back to owners control of their business, they will no longer wonder where the next booking materialises or wait endless days for payments. One of the most important benefits is during the booking process the system gathers much needed valuable consumer data allowing owners to understand their customers persona making future marketing efforts more pro-active.

With overall consumer data in the hands of the owners building customer relationships becomes a reality, owners can inform clients directly of developments, special offers, current news and much more.

Members can follow each other, write and reply to comments and receive blog notifications. Each member gets their own personal profile page that they can customise.

Paying Zero Booking Fees is an idea too good to be true, but it’s possible…here's how tech savvy travellers do it!

Savvy travellers know that in order for them to get the best prices on their vacation rentals, they must book direct with the hospitality owners. To accommodate the tech savvy customer hotel owners need to be aware of the changes they must make in order to attract these consumers, (we deal with later in the post).

So lets take a look at some of methods tech savvy consumers use to seek out zero booking fees that are possible.

Savvy travellers will start with Google. Following are a few tips they implement to avoid unacceptable fees, which can cost approx. 4% to 17% depending on different vacation rental websites.

The first step is they will either search Google or simply go to a major travel agency site and search for the destination they are interested in traveling to.

  • Tech savvy travellers may copy a small chunk of text from the property’s description, Google it, and chances are they will land to the property’s website, or might also happen it leads them to the name of the property that has been omitted by the vacation rental service.

  • They can also Google the image’s link, just copy and paste it into Google search. Image search can also be extremely helpful in tracking down a property.

  • The tech savvy traveller will then try calling or emailing the vacation rental directly (if they are lucky enough to find their number). Corresponding with the owner/manager directly will make the transition much easier and hassle-free, and not to mention economical too. Travelers will save a substantial amount. Not only will the hospitality owner save on hefty vacation rental booking website fees, but also with good dealing and negotiation travellers may obtain more discounts from the owner directly.

  • Spending a little more time on Google search engine will lead travellers to many options and free websites where they can easily get information about the owner.

  • On many websites savvy travellers will check out “about us” and “contact us pages.” where they learn a plethora of information is available.

  • The same applies to air, ferry, train, car hire travel arrangements.

What steps can hospitality take to respond to the demand!

It would wise for owners to evaluate their current position, i.e. the companies current booking method, online presence (SEO) against primary competitors, this is easily undertaken by carrying out an online presence audit.

From the data gathered owners will be able to make informed decisions about areas that require attention for improvement which in turn will assist with web design, mobile strategy and in creating a high performing website over time.

In conjunction, owners should take a hard look at the way they currently run their business and if necessary redefine the process with an up to date business model, also define their ideal customer, be selective in which market they can serve effectively and set business purposes that are achievable, sustainable and realistic.

The main overriding message is "owners should start taking control of their business and its future"

Owners should research the market for a direct online booking engine that attracts no commission fees and offers integrated marketing tools for promoting the business online for example, Wix Hotels which lets owners take charge of all aspects of booking online and the all important direct booking system.

What challenges does a direct booking system present?

Direct booking systems may not be suitable for every small hospitality outlet, because it depends on the owners attitude, booking demands and whether or not they can embrace change and learn about how the benefits a direct booking and management system adds value to their business.

There is also the question of transition from the current method to the new dynamic method, well there's good news here as well, its called channel manager powered by Hotel Runner (attracts a commission).

All owners booking channels are synced, meaning you can integrate in parallel your current system effortlessly and manage all bookings through an online channel manager, they sync all reservations from over 80 booking channels in one seamless transition, it even imports reservations from Airbnb, Homeaway & Google calendars.

The challenge is to build on your current system while developing the new direct booking system over a season before you go it alone, at the very least owners will have gained consumer data to action for the following season.

What does all this mean for the owners?

In general people like routine, may not actively research for applications on the market that enhance visibility, efficiency and profitability of a business.

What hospitality owners should be asking themselves is why some of the biggest high street names are finding market conditions very tough, why there're going into liquidation and what are the fundamental causes.

According to a recent survey by AdColony's, commissioned by mobile marketeer smartphones are the most popular device for shopping online, consumers search for a product then shop around for the best deals.

Results suggest that merchants and brands need to have their mobile strategies in place to appeal to holiday shoppers who rely heavily on their smartphones to make online purchases or for assistance in stores.

Insight conclusions from the survey suggest small business hospitality owners address the situation now or face the inevitable negative impact on their business!

Looking forward owners must wise up and spend some quality time developing their own online presence, smartphone strategy, engage, communicate and delight their customers and give some serious thought to the scenarios that could impact upon the future of the business.

If owners continue to stay under the control of the major travel agencies, who not only control bookings (your business) cash flows, (whether you trade or not) owners future and to top it all they even hold all owners customer information as well they may face a bleak future!

There are more moving parts to starting and running a business than owning a website and slapping a “grand opening” banner on the front page. One very important aspect is the communication between the owners brand and the consumer, its difficult to do that working through a third part (Travel Agents).

Brand awareness is stronger than ever so owners must give their business a boost establish the brand and put customers first, keep attitude in check and stay empathetic with customers, it will serve them well!

Steps owners can take to embrace the direct booking demand?

To embrace a direct booking system some fundamental changes would be required to a hospitality owners website, these include;

  • Installing a direct booking engine

  • Selecting a payment gateway

  • Adding Links on website for transport services, Air, Car, Ferry, Train.

  • Setting-up client database

  • Integrating promotional marketing tools

  • Evaluating the websites current online ranking

  • Defining an SEO strategy

  • Adding terms and conditions of trading

  • GDPR policy

  • Refund policy

  • Covid-19 protocols

  • Owning a reliable desktop or laptop computer

An online presence audit (OPA) will present owners with an accurate picture of their websites current performance and ranking online with search engines and further high light their standing against their primary competitors.

From the data gathered owners will be able to make informed decisions about areas that require attention for improvement which in turn will assist with web design, mobile strategy and in creating a high performing website over time.

In conjunction, owners should take a hard look at the way they currently run their business and if necessary redefine the process with a new business model, also define their ideal customer, be selective in which market they can serve effectively and set business purposes that are achievable, sustainable and realistic.

The main overriding message is "owners should start taking control of their business and its future"

There are other sources of inspiration for example The Hotel Networks all new Bench Direct system offers growth for hospitality owners direct booking channel that attracts, engages and converts visitors throughout the online booking journey by using predictive personalization to offer each guest a unique user experience.

Installation is super simple: just add a line of code to your current website, no surgery required. It takes your IT person 10 minutes to have it up and running.

Its extremely fast installation and works on any website for any hotel, no matter who your technology provider is, it integrates with existing solutions and according the company improves it.

What is social media marketing?

Social media marketing is the act of using social media platforms to promote a brand or product, build an audience, generate leads, and increase sales and website traffic.

A great place for inspiration is reading the Wix blog post on social media marketing small business, you'll get some great tips & tricks to get you started its both informative and intuitive.

Concentrate initially on the primary channel to get you started with search engines like Google my business, its free to register online and a Business Profile on Google My Business helps reach out and engage across Google Search and Maps.

Once registered make a big effort and start working on your SEO, (search engine optimisation) high ranking does not happen over night it takes time and a lot of patience! but keep going until you get it right.

Experiment, experiment, experiment with your search phases, test them out on the Internet and see what results appear, look for your competitors search phases then tailor yours to get results.

When you are satisfied with your media strategy get your site indexed with all the major search engines to make sure your site is viewed online.

Do some basic research on all free media channels, facebook, twitter, Instagram etc, open free business accounts then decide which one best fits your business, not all will give you the best results so choose carefully and lastly make sure your media marketing efforts are accessible to all users.

Author Mike Fox...


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