Accommodation Swap history from 2003
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 660 members (as of March 2019) 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.
Accommodation Swap is alive and well.Mike and his enthusiastic team are passionate in what they do and look forward to serving the industry well into the future.
Office: situated in Langebaan - Western Cape
Email: Web Master
Tel No: + 022 7721 463