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Archive for the 'Hospitality Club' Category

Hospitality Club and Airbnb Partnership

Veit, the hospitality club founder, comes with a nice surprise: using Airbnb to generate money for himself.

Hospitality Club and Airbnb have partnered to support one another in our shared vision to bring people together. We are very excited about this partnership since it allows us as a community to further spread the idea of hospitality exchange and at the same time raise much-needed funds by doing something we love anyway – hosting!


CS becoming a for-profit business: A message from Hospitality Club Founder Veit

After the shocking news of Couchsurfing accepting a $7.6 million investment and becoming a for-profit company, I just wrote a message to the hospitality exchange community. Most important: Hospitality Club will never be a for-profit business, we are currently developing an open-source site for HC and some behind-the-scenes info on CS. Please read the statement here:

Oh, and a special shoutout to my haters here :-D

Hospitality Club Dictatorship

Seriously, since the beginning this is one of my most important dogmas for the HC: no official structure for decision taking. I will always discuss issues openly with the people involved and with knowledge to come to good decisions that are the best for the network. But the final decision will always be with me.

This excerpt is from an e-mail by Veit Kühne (dated, 19 Jan 2005) as an answer to a Hospitality Club volunteer discussion. It has now been published on Wikileaks. According to Wikileaks’ “Latest Leaks and Censored Media”, Hospitality Club founder Veit Kühne planned organizational dictatorship for life and the e-mail “describes his plans for the power structure of the club: a benevolent dictatorship for life”.

Three and a half years after writing this e-mail, Veit also publicly gave away his strategy for taking over BeWelcome, the democratic hospitality exchange network that was started as a result of Veit’s ignorance towards members and volunteers of Hospitality Club.

Read the full e-mail “HC democracy and strategy” at Wikileaks.

Some feedback on HC via comic – laugh will cure us all

When one takes a look on HC/BW/CS from a distance, it can result in one’s smile: so many battles have already happened between these ideological networks – networks with pretty much the same goals. Most of my hospex communication went through HC, I know it, grew up with it – so this comic (click on a picture below) is mostly about HC. One can find it critical, but for me this is just…  mostly some ironical notes about common issues one has to take into consideration when working within any of these networks. Enjoy it, and please give me a feedback!

(part III)

Death of Hospitality Club

You could pretty much figure out by Veit’s unguided flame against BeWelcome last year, that his income through adds on Hospitality Club was already dropping. But now it appears that there are hardly any volunteers left at HC: these days it takes more than 4 months to get your profile approved after you sign up to become a new member. Nice one if you plan to travel the next day and just found out about hospitality exchange.

Greetings new member. We have just accepted you as a new member of Veit’s Club. It took us more than 4 months to have you approved but finally you (if you still remember us?) can connect with Hostility Club, one of the most friendly clubs on the internet and in the real world. – Slighly adapted welcome message that new members receive.

It might be sad to see Hospitality Club, the first online hospitality exchange service that we shared but also the one that is well known for its censorship-issues, ceased to exist beyond a plane website. But such is life if the so-called leaders simply don’t respect their members and volunteers.

Project “Reuniting the Community”

A lot of the stuff BW is based on (money, texts, layout – see above) was taken away from HC and HC volunteers who worked on it for a long time without their permission. We will try to bring this stuff home and reunite the community. Since BW advertises having a “democratic” setup we will happily work together with them using this framework for the best of the community in our reunification efforts. And you can help us! Here’s how Project “Reuniting the Community” works:

Texts and code are copied, not taken away.    And above all, they should be copied if people want to copy them.
Money can’t be taken away from a non-existing organization.
I love the idea of reuniting the Community.

Phase 1: Right now, we are encouraging active HC volunteers to join BeVolunteer as “members”. BV currently has 45 members (see the irony of calling a network run by 45 people “democratic”?), a few of them are absolutely dedicated to HC. You have to jump through a few loops to be accepted by their “Board of directors” as a member, but the fun should be worth it. Basically, you just have to be an “active volunteer”, so just edit around the wiki a bit, join some of the many many discussions in their Forums, or translate a few sentences. Once you are a member, just let us know. We will reimburse you for any “membership fees” you have to pay to BV once the project has succeeded.

There are no membership fees, not even to become a member of the BoD.
Democracy is not a black and white question, but to me it’s a network ran by a single person is the least ideal form (i.e. HC).

Phase 2: We will make sure that HC-friendly people are elected to BV’s “Board of Directors” – the 9 people running the show (kind of interesting model of democracy). They could start making sure that links back to HC are added, and BW as organization stops its aggressive attacks on HC.

People’s profiles (like mine) are deleted for links from HC to BW…

Phase 3: The final step will be to reintegrate BW into HC, a simple “General Assembly” decision will be enough for that. Since both will be based on open-source software then, it won’t be too big of a problem. We might even continue to use their officially registered French NGO as the HC-NGO in France. And all will be good :-)
Sounds like fun? Then help us, or get in touch if you need more info and encouragement!

Great, finally an official organization for Hospitality Club!

See for a 1 page overview of the issues with HC.

Actually, do HospEx Networks really facilitate ‘Intercultural Understanding’ successfully?

As it seems interesting to set the things here in a wider frame (see, a.o., “Is travelling noble? Or: “The Emperor’s New Clorths” by PickWick), and some thoughts around this theme come up a couple of times recently (e.g. we vs. them), I would like to continue with this and publish more thoughts in this direction. I hope that this post is appreciated and will, hopefully, function as an opening to an interesting discussion and to new insights. And maybe even more people do so in future. Those lines have been first published, by me, on the HospEx Ne>>t Wiki under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License.





Prejudice and Discrimination will always be with us.’
Hospitality Exchange Travel Networks a respond to this?

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation
where they will not be judged by the color of their skin
but by the content of their character.”
Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)


After a short introduction to Hospitality Exchange Networks, prejudice and discrimination and their relationship to each other, this essay will examine two widely known psychological theories that can be relevant in the reduction of prejudice. At the end, the relevance to Hospitality Exchange Networks will be evaluated.


Read the whole essay on HospEx Ne>>t Wiki.




Interesting Further Reading

Hospitality Club: Violent Communication

I’ve been a member of Hospitality Club since April 2004. I had over 100 positive comments and left about the same number of comments. Then I received this, out of the blue, after not even having logged in for about a month:

Hospitality Club: termination of your membership

Hello grappig,

you seriously abused our rules as outlined on, therefore we had to terminate your membership to protect other members and our network.


the Hospitality Club Abuse Team

The Hospitality Club
… bringing people together!

Rock on Veit!

10 reasons I use

On this day of celebration for some, I’d like to share with you 10 reasons why I continue to use

  1. I have and continue to meet wonderful, amazing people through CouchSurfing.
  2. CouchSurfing has more members than BeWelcome.
  3. My messages or profile updates are not held for manual approval on CouchSurfing, unlike Hospitality Club.
  4. I can arrive in a new city and be confident there will be some local CouchSurfers to show me round, potentially host me, and so on. I don’t have that confidence with other sites.
  5. Generally, the system works. It has downtime, I would describe it as unreliable, but overall, it works at least 90% of the time for me.
  6. In most major cities, there is an active CouchSurfing group. The groups are a great resource for meeting locals, finding events, and getting to know a city.
  7. Likewise, in most major cities there are regular CS meetings which are generally filled with interesting people. I find the meets a great place to meet locals in new cities, more so than individual emails.
  8. I have built up a reputation and profile on CouchSurfing, it will take time to establish that profile elsewhere, and there are currently no easy means to do that.
  9. I, occasionally, use the related to feature, which shows how you’re connected to other people on the site. (If we could search based on that, it would be a major bonus).
  10. Finally, I continue to use CouchSurfing because it’s become a habit. Habits are notoriously tough to break.

I wanted to share this list to remind people that OpenCouchSurfing is not full of CS haters. In fact, many of the most active openCS supporters are very active CouchSurfers.

If you celebrate Christmas, have a very merry Christmas, if not, have a wonderful day.

The trouble with CS finances

No, is not in financial trouble… Yet.

On June 19th, I published a analysis of the CS finances (sheet) , predicting that CS (technically it’s actually just Casey) would be able to hire 3 to 5 extra “employees” by the end of this year. It happened a lot quicker than I thought however (Jim Stone and Mattthew Brauer got hired as well as a thus far unannounced and unnamed developer). This is the part where I say “See! i was right!” and continue speculating.

Let’s have a look at where this money comes from. As far as we know, there is only one source of income for Couchsurfing: donations. This is logical, since there are no banner ads, no paid subscriptions or anything and Couchsurfing has been unable to register as a 501(c)3 organisation in the US so far, which excludes the organisation (actually, just Casey and his friends, since there is no officially elected board) from US government money.

But! Surely people that (mostly) like to travel cheaply cannot afford to collectively donate over 150.000 $ a year (projected for 2007)?!? You’re right. They aren’t donating, they are “getting verified” at 25$ per person (or less if you can prove you live in a poor area of the world). Verification is essentially proving to CS that you are who you say you are and nothing talks like money. If it was just verification they were offering, money wouldn’t need to be involved. I’ve heard of CS meetings where you could bring a passport and 25$ to get verified by an admin. Why would you need to pay if you could just show your passport and be done with it? Because, of course, this verification/donation scam is the main revenue stream for CS. Yes, a scam. If CS was genuinly interested in getting people verified for “security reasons”, a showing of passports would be more than enough. However, I have thus far never met anybody who was able to get verified without paying cold hard cash. The administrative cost of sending you a “verification code” is also negligable, a 2$ “donation” would be much closer to the actual need since all the physical posting is done by volunteers anyway.

In and of itself, this verification/donation scam is mostly harmless, even if the “sliding scale verification” is pretty cynical if you really think about it. (We’re asking people to pay as much as they can affor, so they can “prove” their identities and get the same benefits as those who can afford it, how’s that for intercultural understanding.) I mean, even I fell for it and payed to get verified. Then why is it such a problem?

The trouble is that verification money scales directly with new subscriptions to CS. This in turn means that CS can only continue to afford paying people like Jim Stone if people keep registering (and verifying) at the current rate. This definitely explains why there is so much “verification spam” on CS (visible when you haven’t “verified/donated” yet). If at any point the amount of new users starts to slow down, verification/donation money will automatically slow down as well. If CS ever hits the peak of possible subscribers, income will fall, rapidly. Subsequently, Couchsurfing cannot afford it’s employees anymore and soon it will be in real trouble.

How likely is this? Well, Hospitality Club seems to have hit it’s high point already, with subscriptions slowing down significantly. We can only assume that it’s only a matter of a year or 2 (at the most) before the same thing happens to CS, since both organisations tap more or less the same userbase.

At that point – as they say – things will start falling apart. CS will be practically forced to work with volunteers again at the “top of the food chain”, which no doubt will cause enormous amounts of stress on the tightly formed group that is privately running CS right now. Note that Casey is not preparing “his” organisation for this. It doesn’t appear that any of the donation money is being saved (for instance by not hiring Jim and Mattthew but opening a savings account) and long-term thinking doesn’t appear to be a strength of the organisation anyway. Couchsurfing is technically running on “borrowed” time, on finances that will only last as long as new users keep coming in.

An organisation like CS almost has to run on volunteers, unless it drastically changes its business model. So, either we see banner ads, “payed subscriptions”, “golden accounts”, regular “donation drives” or whatever or we’re going to see a financial breakdown. When that happens, and it most likely will, we’ll be here to pick up the pieces.