Created by Rachel Seed, 37, the Hotel Exchange aims to provide busy operators of independent hotels, bed and breakfasts, and pubs with rooms with the opportunity to take a well-earned break - for free. It works in the same way as house-swap programmes, but is available only to those who own a hospitality business.
Caterer How did you come up with the idea for the Hotel Exchange?
Rachel Seed I was running the Somerset Arms, near Frome, Wiltshire, and like so many independent operators in this industry, I was working ridiculously long hours - 16 hours a day, seven days a week. I was exhausted and desperately needed to get away. Chatting to some friends who ran a boutique B&B in Devon and were in the same boat as me, I realised there were probably hundreds of people in the same position. We did an initial swap - and both had a fantastic time - and as a result the Hotel Exchange began to take shape.
Caterer Who are your members?
RS We currently have around 120 members in 22 countries. Around 15 new members, each paying a fee of £79, are joining us each week. We have some wonderful properties including a castle in Cumbria, a Michelin-starred pub with rooms and a yoga retreat in Goa.
Caterer How does the Hotel Exchange work?
RS We simply act as an introductory service and don't get involved in the actual booking - that is done between members.
Caterer What are the benefits?
RS As well as the obvious one of providing a well-earned break, for no cost, for owners, it is also being used for staff incentives. And, unexpectedly, we have found that it has become a very useful means of support between members.
Caterer Where can people find you?