us as of March 2016
Accommodation 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.
Mike 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 was born.
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 would happen.
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 period.
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 needed.
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
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.