This is a highlight of some issues raised in feature request #437.
Please add any comments or insights related to the topic of membership
growth and retention to help generate ideas and form a consensus of
what might be the best path for the future.
Given the growing popularity of other hospitality clubs and exchanges,
both gratis and paid (i.e. AirBnB), it would be important to keep WS
relevant and competitive. The audience is inherently limited as it is
and without a critical mass of sustaining members, it risks slowly
sliding into obscurity like the original email-based list did.
Member growth here hasn't abated at this point, but the point is still
valid. All this space changes rapidly. Some basic stats on member
growth can be found at https://www.warmshowers.org/country_count,
but it would be good to see metrics such as requests for hosts per
month or something that would indicate use rather than just sign ups.
Initial messages and answered messages my be good proxies for
requests. There's a related discussion here:
Looking at a plot of the membership data (attached), exponential
growth has ended as of this year, so there should be a concerted
effort on ensuring that members stay active and continue to derive
some sort of value from the organisation.
Personally, I've hosted a few cyclists in the past 6-12 months who
have been relying on multiple apps for finding accommodation, even
meta-apps which search several clubs at the same time. If cyclists
indiscriminately searching for free accommodation becomes the norm,
then the value inherent in cyclists hosting cyclists begins to
deteriorate and the value to hosts, who actually pay in terms of their
time and hospitality, becomes less valuable.
As hospitality has gotten easier (i.e. the site is larger) there may
be a very few people who use it far more than was ever intended. Most
of us see it as a free way to break up a long string of camping
nights, but there are those (about a third in my experience) who are
trying to get a free place and a meal every night.