Swap originated in 2003 by Mike Kieser who, with his late wife
Molly and three children were avid caravaners. Once the kids had
grown up and left home the van became quite a burden to handle
on their own and so they decided to sell it. This left them with
a bit of a dilemma as holidaying was so cheap and affordable when
caravanning but now they would have to pay exorbitant rates staying
in Hotels or B&B's.
and Molly had also started running a small self-catering establishment
attached to but independent of the main house. One day the families
were all together reminiscing on the happy and inexpensive holidays
they enjoyed whilst caravanning and pondering on what now to do
for future holidays when suddenly a brilliant idea popped up out
of nowhere. What if they could contact someone who is also running
a self-catering establishment and ask whether they would be prepared
to swap accommodation free of charge - voila! Accommodation Swap
Mike immediately got on to google to see if there were any businesses
already running something like they had in mind and was astounded
to learn that there was no other business in the WORLD registered
on the internet - let alone South Africa. There were established
home to home sites, holiday destination sites and time share but
nothing like they had in mind that would serve only the hospitality
industry. This generated a huge amount of excitement and enthusiasm
in the family - wow a 'first' in the WORLD ?
They had all the tools to start the business. Brad, Mike and Molly's
eldest son, was a fully qualified computer scientist and Mike was
also very much into the computer environment . Many hours of brain
storming ensued and gradually a rudimentary working model emerged.
The initial launching of the product was on the 1st March 2003.
Hundreds of introductory flyers were sent out to establishments
in South Africa and then the team waited anxiously to see what
On the 13th March 2003 they got their first sign up - Sheila Russell
of Wyford Farm in KZN followed shortly by Kerry Nieuwoudt who owned
Northcrest Manor, also in KZN. Both of these have remained members
since inception and helped to grow the business through very lean
times when for quite a few years there were not many members registered
- the team are extremely grateful for their loyalty when many others
joined and then later left because "there are not enough members
to choose from "
It's always very difficult to start something from scratch and
Accom Swap has been no different. For many years the fledgling
business's membership fluctuated up and down. So many came back
and said what a brilliant idea it was and that they would join
when there were more members to choose from. The sad thing about
this is that it took almost 6yrs to gradually grow the membership
to just over 70 members whereas if everyone who had shown interest
had just joined the membership would have been over 70 in one year!
- so a big thank you to both Sheila and Kerry (and later quite
a few others as well) who could see the potential in Accom Swap
and who were prepared to hang in there during the early growth
In the early stages Accom Swap ran at a complete financial loss
and from a business perspective would have had to be terminated.
Mike however had faith in the vision and long term prospects and
continued to plough in his own time, money and effort into growing
the business with no financial benefit for the next 6 years.
The early business model was virtually done by hand and records
were kept on an xcell work sheet which Mike had to manually fill
in after each swap was made. This was fine when there were not
too many members but as the membership slowly grew it became a
massive time absorption exercise. A more sophisticated method was
Accom Swap is now fully automated with sophisticated behind the
scenes coding that takes care of the day to day running of the
business and leaves Mike more time now to concentrate on resolving
any membership problems or queries. Mike likes to try and make
all of the over 500 members (as of March 2016) feel that they are
part of the decision making and to feel at home in the "family"
of Accommodation Swap. Their vibrant Facebook group of over 240
members is testimony to this where issues are vigorously debated
and ideas and suggestions flow in abundance.
Part of the Accom Swap ethos is to keep the annual subscription
fees as affordable as possible. Their target is to never exceed
one day's taking for two people paying for accommodation in a three
star establishment. To date they have bettered that target every
year. Once an establishment joins they will have recouped their
fees in the very first swap they make - after that it is all profit
straight into their pockets.
The hospitality industry is largely made up of conservative citizens
and therefore will always be a slow growing factor on Accom Swap
membership. BUT once a new member joins they are generally overwhelmed
at the efficiency of the system and at how profitable it is on
their pockets. It is virtually impossible to make a loss when joining.
The team have issued a challenge for anyone to show them any other
kind of investment that will give their members higher profits
on investment than Accommodation Swap. To date no one has been
able to gainsay this claim - see Accommodation Swap stats chart
in the web site.
In the past there have been a few attempts to copycat Accommodation
Swap - almost word for word. To date there still is such an attempt
in progress. All of them, sad to say, have been made from within
our own membership by unscrupulous people who joined, saw the potential
of the system and then tried to exploit it by trying to commandeer
our members from within. We certainly do not mind healthy opposition
as this is good for the industry but it is an indictment on these
people who try to capitalize on someone else's ideas and hard work
in an underhand, clandestine and deceitful way.
Swap is alive and well however and here to stay.Mike and his enthusiastic
team are passionate in what they do and look forward to serving
the industry well into the future.