How about a "Hotelier Swap"?
By Yeoh Siew Hoon - SHY Ventures
Saturday, 27th May 2006
Yeoh Siew Hoon shares an idea for a new reality TV programme.

When I first saw the TV series "Wife Swap" being advertised, I thought it was an episode of "Desperate Housewives", and that the scheming women on Wisteria Lane were taking the love-thy-neighbour credo to new highs.

Then I found out that "Wife Swap" was actually a reality TV programme about families exchanging wives for a period of time. I am not hundred percent sure about the rules – I keep swapping channels everytime it is shown – but I believe it goes something like this.

For the first week or so, the wives make all the rules and the family she's been assigned to must heed and obey. For the second week, she has to obey her adopted family's rules.

The camera follows every significant move – like the mother blowdrying her hair while the electricity current cuts off every 30 seconds and she losing her temper.

As you can imagine, it makes for riveting viewing – watching families adapt to a new woman in the house.

It's a bit like putting the cat among the pigeons – feathers are sure to fly.

I have yet to watch an episode in full – my dysfunctional attention span does not extend to watching family catfights which, in my books, do not constitute entertainment – but it's got me thinking, what if we were to produce a reality TV series called "Hotelier Swap"?

I think this would make for even more riveting viewing.

In each episode, two hoteliers trade places and the same rules apply.

One week, they make all the rules and all staff have to adhere … so what's different, I hear you ask. Don't all general managers make the rules and everyone has to obey anyway? Well, the difference is in most hotels, general managers, although they may behave like gods, are not really – there is usually a higher power than them that reminds that sometimes that plastic flowers will do just as well as fresh flowers, especially when that revpar is under par.

In this series, they'd be real GODS. How scary is that?

Anyway, to get back to my point about rules, the next week – and here's the clincher – the staff make the rules and the general manager has to obey.

I think this second part has the potential to be a blockbuster and could be the making of a highly-successful management training video.

It could be called "Staff Know Better – Tales From The Ground Floor".

After all, everyone knows that general managers come and go – they move like wildebeest every seasonal rotation – but it's generally the staff who stay put through the years, and know the hotel better than anyone else.

We could do lots of interesting swaps – between a resort general manager – the kind that wears floral shirts and khaki pants – and a very corporate-looking big city hotel general manager – the double-breasted-suited-variety-who-walks-with-both-arms-crossed-at-the-back or between a manager of a small hotel in middle America with a manager of a big hotel in a Chinese secondary city.

On second thought, this might be too close to reality for it to be entertaining. I mean, hotelier swaps go on all the time, don't they?

Ah, I know a twist – how about swapping a journalist and a hotelier? I have always wanted to understand the workings of a hotel first-hand and I think it would benefit a hotelier to be in my shoes for a while, to understand the pangs and pains of an editor.

We could call this programme "Hack/Hotelier Swap" or "Trading News For Rooms".

Any takers?

The SHY Report
A regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry by one of
Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, Yeoh Siew Hoon.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her company's mission is "Content, Communication, Connection". She is a writer, speaker, facilitator, trainer and events producer. She is also an author, having published "Around
Asia In 1 Hr: Tales of Condoms, Chillies & Curries". Her motto is ‘free to do, and be'.

Contacts: Tel: 65-63424934, Mobile: 65-96801460
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