HotelSwaps: Room exchange programme launched to fill empty hotels and offer staff rewards

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Hotel

HotelSwaps aims to tackle the industry-wide problems of staff retention and unused hotel rooms
HotelSwaps aims to tackle the industry-wide problems of staff retention and unused hotel rooms
HotelSwaps, an innovative staff retention and incentive programme, has been set up to help UK hoteliers tackle the problem of unused rooms by swapping them with others for employee rewards and training purposes. 

The new membership network allows hotel owners and managers to deposit ‘empty room nights’ online, in exchange for points which can then be transferred to high-performing employees who can use them for free stays at other member hotels.

“Staff retention, as we know, is one of the main challenges of the hotel industry,” said Preben Vestdam, managing director of HotelSwaps. “So much money is lost in recruitment and training of employees who then move on.

“It is vital that the industry works out how to incentivise and retain staff in an affordable way and I am confident that HotelSwaps is an effective solution to this issue.”

Problems & solutions

The new programme aims to help hoteliers make use of a huge inventory of empty hotel rooms - over 700 million room nights were left unoccupied across Europe in 2009. And, with 70 per cent of hotel general managers worldwide agreeing that human resources is the most challenging issue for the industry, HotelSwaps provides an alternative way of retaining staff; by rewarding them with free stays.

This move towards incentivising employees comes less than a month after Master Innholders chairman Andrew Stembridge proclaimed that ‘the power of people’ is enough to keep businesses afloat during the recession.

“Not only can HotelSwaps be built into training and incentive programmes, but it also has spin off benefits such as additional revenues, qualitative feedback and sharing of best practices,” added Vestdam.

HotelSwaps: Video

Vestdam believes his programme ‘will help hoteliers improve the hotel insurty as a great place to work’.

“HotelSwaps has been a year in the making to ensure we not only have robust points exchange system but also have the right solution to help hotel managers better look after their staff at a very low cost.

Membership fee

“We look forward to affiliating many quality hotels to the programme and seeing HotelSwaps become a key partner to the hospitality industry for years to come.”

Hotels pay an annual membership fee to HotelSwaps, starting at £395 for a hotel with less than 25 rooms and rising to £1,950 for a hotel of over 100 rooms. There is also a reservations fee of £40 per booking charged to the guest, regardless of the length of the stay. The programme is currently running a 'first year free' promotion which allows hotel owners to try out HotelSwaps for 12 months before deciding to become a full member.

Once a member, a hotel can start depositing rooms, in return for points. Points are valued based on the seasonality and quality of the hotel to ensure a fair exchange between hotel members. Deposited rooms are held in an online inventory pool from which hotel employees, who have been rewarded with points, can make their reservations.

Another advantage of the programme is its flexibility; allowing owners to send their management team on training breaks to experience other similar hotels, or to reward key staff for long service with a week’s family holiday.

Other key benefits:

HotelSwaps has identified four key areas where hoteliers can benefit from the programme:

  • Employee retention​:  An attractive employee incentive plan can prevent staff from searching for alternative employment.
  • Employee training​: HotelSwaps exposes staff to a wide range of hotel properties, styles and offers.
  • Revenue opportunities​: While the deposited rooms may be offered free of charge, hotels will see an increase in food and beverage revenues as well as in leisure services during periods of lower occupancy.
  • Quality feedback​:  A feedback mechanism has been built into the web application, providing participating hotels with confidential feedback of high quality from fellow hoteliers.

For more information, visit

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