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unresponsive "hosts"

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WS Member WS Member's picture
unresponsive "hosts"

Hello all,

I have hosted about a dozen people and always return requests, even if I cannot host. My current tour from Glacier NP to Seattle to San Francisco is the first time I have asked for hosting. It has not been a great experience. Many people do not reply. Some are listed at 0% response. Why are they not kicked off?

I see complaints about sending multiple requests but I have had to resort to that as well as most people do not respond. Not some, but most!? def over 50% :(

We are currently headed to Portland and wanted to stay two nights but may have to spring for a hotel. Unfortunately, it is Labor Day weekend in the US, however we had the same lack of response for Vancouver the same weekend as well as Missoula a few weeks ago.

Have others had this much trouble? I seem to have excellent feedback so I don't think I seem rotten or something silly like that. I have really enjoyed helping out fellow travelers and sharing stories as well as my city; and will continue to do so. However, as far as feeling like i paid things forward and banked karma...I feel a bit salty!

ride on!!

WS Member WS Member's picture
I find you have to send out

I find you have to send out about 10 messages for 1 response and in some areas where a lit ofcyclists are passing through the response rate can be worse so don't take it personally, it does make it quite a time consuming task though trying to find a host.
Come stay with usin Bristol :)

WS Member WS Member's picture
Sorry to hear of your troubles.

Your experience is not unusual from my own admittedly limited anecdotal evidence, though the average response rate for the site is apparently around 60% which is far above any hospitality network I've been involved in and certainly puts my city to shame.

There's really not much to offer by way of advice other than getting smarter with targetting requests to hosts that have a record of responding, writing something personal in the message etc, but this can be time consuming on the road. The 'problem' of guests sending out multiple requests seems to me to be more of a problem of hosts assuming that their reply of 'yes' automatically equals a confirmed stay. The obvious solution was offered at least twice in that thread (and ignored).

As a host on another hospitality site, it was up until recently routine for me to receive over 1000 requests per year, most of them were garbage but I responded to them all and would've been surprised if any of those requests weren't sent out to multiple hosts. It's fairly standard practice and entirely understandable. Looking at your profile, I would've certainly been more predisposed to host you than the average hospitality request I receive, as someone who has hosted and taken the time to write references.

Perhaps it's merely a matter of lowering expectations, having a plan B, and then being pleasantly surprised when you receive a positive response. For me the pay it forward/karma thing is not the way to look at it - life is not so compartmentalised. Host because you enjoy it first and foremost.

P.S. - People are 'kicked off' if they haven't logged in for more than a year at the time of the annual purge which tends to be January/February.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Just to emphasize the task

Just to emphasize the task that confronts someone on the road trying to find hosts with limited time online, these are the response rates and times since last login for members that appear at the top of a list search for my city:

2/2 36w
1/5 21w
6/30 1w
1/16 2y29w
1/17 36w
0/0 17w
0/15 50w
0/1 4w
0/11 1y
4/14 36w
1/21 26w

I am sure there are inexperienced members who are unaware of features such as the response rate or just assume that, like with search engines, there is some filtering mechanism pushing more useful results to the top of the list who will just make requests to some subset of this group. But even assuming a member trying to target requests to active, responsive hosts, isn't this asking too much of their time to sift through this kind of randomness (the list continues like this for another 50-60 members, there are perhaps 10 members hidden in there that I would describe as somewhat responsive)? The only response rate on the list above that indicates that one would have a better than even chance of a response is someone who last logged in 36 weeks ago. The only login within the last 4 weeks is a member with a response rate of 6/30.

By ordering hosts by distance from an arbitrary city centre we are creating a tendency to filter LESS responsive hosts to the top (ie: hosts who have not marked their location who I would argue would contain a higher proportion of people who signed up with little or no intention of hosting).

Sorry to harp on this again, if I could code I would certainly try to contribute, but I think this will only become a greater problem as the site grows.

WS Member WS Member's picture
similar experience

Hi ChillWill

I have had similar experiences travelling through Latin America and had a theory that it might just be 'cultural' -- that is, that most Latinos don't seem to like saying no directly and that simply not answering messages was the way they communicated a negative response. But it seems that I might have to revise my theory.

I guess I agree with Paul's response to you, though. I don't tend to write to people who have a visible history of not responding -- about 80% response rate and over is my usual cut off rate. I also look to see if the person has feedback because that indicates that they do actually take an active part in the network.

Still, my motive in signing on right now was to maybe post my own whine about non-responsive potential hosts since I recently wrote to a couple of people here in Brazil with zero result. They were newish members so I was giving them the benefit of the doubt despite the absence of a track record.

Happy pedalling.

Anna

WS Member WS Member's picture
Hi Anna

To all the Brazilian hosts out there - please don't ignore Anna, she is definitely not a boluda. How else are you ever going to hear her rabid jungle fox attack story? And please whatever you do, do not send her a cut and paste negative response.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Hi Paul

Thanks for the 'vouch' Paul!

WS Member WS Member's picture
Write me and I'll get back to

Write me and I'll get back to you! :)

Interesting to see people's experiences laid out here in the forums… best thing for new hosts (and I suspect guests) here at WS.

So, seriously… unless you find another host more inviting to your tastes and timing… look me up when you hit the Northern California Coast (unless you're heading inland along the I5 instead… I'm a bit off that path).

Is this okay? Advertising myself here on the forums? lol

WS Member WS Member's picture
response rate doesn't say everything

First i want to comment on the response rate thing. i always respond to all requests, still my response rate is not 100%. Recently I understood why. After sending messages back and forth with other members, sometimes it so happens that the conversation is done, but I didn't reply to the last message. Say that the guest send me 5 messages and I replied to the first four, my response rate would be 80%.

Second, I have used or tried to used Warmshowers and other hospitality networks on all continents except Antarctica. After sending out about 300 request in the past years I drew the following conclusions. In 'western' countries warmshowers worked quite well for me. In Asia, Africa and Latin America it hardly ever worked and if it did it was mostly with expats from 'western' countries. There have been a few exceptions of course.

I came up with a few explanations:

1. Internet access: some people in developing countries only read their email once every two weeks, where many in developed nations read it every 5 minutes.

2. Cultural differences: like mentioned above, in some countries people find it hard to say no, they rather say nothing.

3. I am a male: in places like Morocco and Turkey I had the feeling hosts would prefer a request form a single woman.

4. I don't buy touring packages: In other places, like Peru, but also Morocco again, hosts were actually touring guides, trying to get some more clients.

5. Most network deteriorate over time: A bit over 5 years ago I toured the east of the US. I found a host almost every night and very often i was their first guest ever. This has clearly changed. Bike touring is becoming much more popular and hospitality networks are mentioned often in the media. The result is that many new members sign up, but the amount of active available hosts stays behind. Hosts become over asked and get irritated. They start hosting less and there you have your vicious cycle.

At least point number five is important for this thread. In couchsurfing it is very strong, but apparently it is also happening to warmshowers in the US.
I think that some regulation will be necessary to keep the network going in the future. Something like you have to host first 5 times before you are allowed to be a guest. Although I can see a problem there if you live in an area where no-one ever visits.

Unfortunately I came to the point where i never rely on the hospitality networks at all. On our tours we expect that we will have to camp every singly night. Every Warmshowers host that gives us positive response is as an unexpected gift. But very often we don't even try. The process of sending out personal requests without getting answers is spoiling our trips. This is frustrating, especially after being generous host for many years and hosting over 200 people.

Peter

WS Member WS Member's picture
They're all good points -

They're all good points - especially 5 which I believe is such an ingrained law of hospitality networks that you could plot results out on axes and derive a mathematical formula to articulate it. Certainly other internal problems have contributed to two of the more well known hospex sites decline in functionality but what you have described was undoubtedly also a major contributing factor. At least WS isn't desperately trying to spruik ridiculous member numbers and is honest enough to cull non active members each year (though perhaps a rolling cull that is automatically triggered after a warning message when a member passes one year without logging in may be more useful).

Another problem is that new sign ups are by default marked as available to host - I think with the growth of the last few years this is contributing significant numbers of false positives when searching for hosts.

As for your response rate - it is only calculated on the first communication so I don't know where the problem is, perhaps admin could help you.

WS Member Rendellstanbridge's picture
CAMP!

HALLO I !SUPPORT YOU IN YOUR FRAUSTRATIONS ! so nowwe always take our tent and look to hosts every few weeks only ! It has becom too fraustrating disappointing and a big time waster to use warm showers or rely on it over the years I have seen big attitude changes to hosting . We have far better luck just asking where ever we happen to be that evening a farm/ garden/ school/ fire station/ Monastery / or the bush etc! BREIGE

WS Member WS Member's picture
Unresponsive hosts

I’m also concerned about how hospitality service platforms like WSL evolve over time.

What I think needs consideration is how new features affect the WSL
user community w.r.t. enabling behaviour that degrades the platform value.

For example, if we make it too easy for people to find and email hosts on a path or region.
A deluge of hosting requests will turn off some hosts. So maybe we shouldn’t make
it too easy. Or set a quota? Maybe that is why some hosts are unresponsive?

I will admit that I do look at when a user joined WSL and how it coincides with the start of their trip.
That said, we have hosted quite a number of delightful guests who were new to the network.

I think there may be things to consider and pull from those who have looked at managing a "commons" or other free resources. Of course there is the well known "tragedy of the commons" (google it). But perhaps more valuable to WSL are the principles of common use resources (ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elinor_Ostrom)

1- Clearly defined boundaries (effective exclusion of external un-entitled parties);
2- Rules regarding the appropriation and provision of common resources that are adapted to local conditions;
3- Effective monitoring by monitors who are part of or accountable to the appropriators;
4- A scale of graduated sanctions for resource appropriators who violate community rules;

(there are 8 but I shortened the list)
/Mike

WS Member WS Member's picture
I recently contacted to six

I recently contacted to six (or seven) Finnish host at the same time. They had marked their location to the maps totally incorrect. All of them were in the same spot in the middle of nowhere. And their addresses told they actually are several hundreds of kilometers where they claim to be.

Only two of them responded, said "Thank you, I'll correct my location". Others are still "sitting in forest" in middle of nowhere. I'm sure they will never get any guests to host.

WS Member wsadmin's picture
Correct locations are important

If you'll let us know more detail, perhaps the profile of one of the hosts, or a screenshot, we'll see what we can do to fix it. We spend a fair bit of time trying to make sure these problems get resolved. What usually happens is that only a province is provided, or the geocoding with Google fails in some way. We have a volunteer who specifically works on these. You can let us know with more info on the contact form.

-Randy
Warmshowers.org Webmaster

WS Member WS Member's picture
The other day I discovered

The other day I discovered this thriving micronation in the Gulf of Guinea where 12 hardy WS souls eke out an existence refusing to be intimidated by material impediments such as the complete absence of dry land. By the sweat of their brows they have built a biketopia - the Prinicpality of Freewheel. They say the showers are warmer, the beers colder and the wifi more abundant than anywhere else on Earth.

https://i.imgur.com/jopz8EO.png

WS Member wsadmin's picture
I sent both of those (Rolf

I sent both of those (Rolf and Paul) to our geolocation "fixer".

Thanks,
-Randy

WS Member WS Member's picture
Contact form does not work

Contact form does not work for me (validation error).
https://www.warmshowers.org/user/69839

This is an example host who has wrong location.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Response rate

I have hosted and have asked to be hosted. My experiences have been that the people that have actually responded to my requests have been first rate (and I hope they have enjoyed my company).

I have found the response rate depends on the area. If I am traveling through a popular area - San Francisco, Glacier National Park, etc. - the registered hosts have been hit on so often that it seems that the vast majority just ignore my request. I would like WS users to either pull their names off the "willing to host" list or take the time and just say 'no'. In this way, cyclists that are looking for a host can quickly assess the likelihood of finding a host.

WS Member WS Member's picture
My suspicion is that many

My suspicion is that many people apply using a secondary email account that they rarely check. They are wary about getting too many notifications on their primary account. I wouldn't bother contacting anyone who hasn't logged in for over a year and has a poor response rate

The important thing to remember is that you're asking people to voluntarily offer you free accommodation. Don't expect to be successful all the time, or for the response to be reliable. It's kind of like the lottery, be happy when you win something, but don't expect a result all the time :)