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Reservation System and Apps

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Reservation System and Apps

Dear Community

There have been questions around the reservation system and Apps, here is some additional thinking from the Board and myself.

Reservation System

We are putting the reservation system in place for several reasons.  First is for health and safety.  Today we don't know who stayed where, and occasionally there is an issue when we need to know if someone stayed somewhere, and for that reason we would like to have a record if possible.  Second, today we don't know who is using the system where and when.  This makes improving the system very difficult.  Having some information about use patterns. would be very helpful.  Finally, and perhaps most importantly, without knowing that someone stayed somewhere, we can't ask them for a review of the host/guest and vice versa.  Reviews are the lifeblood of warmshowers.org, that one-on-one understanding of whether someone was a good guest/host, that allows others to make an informed choice about where they are staying, or who they are hosting.  By using the reservation system, we can then follow up with guests/hosts to write a review, which benefits everyone using the system.  

You will be able communicate directly with a potential host or guest if that is your choice with the new system.  I think you will appreciate the ease of use, the ability to communicate as you always have, and also the added benefits the reservation systems will engender.  

Apps

The apps will no longer function with the launch of the new website.  We haven't heard much from the community around this change, given the new site will be responsive and therefore device agnostic, however if there is substantial demand for the apps, and the willingness to fund them, we will of course build new ones that are aligned to the new site.  

WS Member WS Member's picture
We have serious reservations

The free spirit of cycle touring and the WS community rock! The idea of a reservation system is in total contrast with this.
The 3 reasons given to build a reservation system, we don't understand at all.

[1] "Health and safety".
If there are any issues, it's 100% the responsibility of the host and the (potential) guest to solve them.

[2] "We don't know who is using the system where and when".
We are very active members and we never had any problem. In practice the problems will boil down to interhuman communication and this can only be solved (again!) by host and guest. No system will be able to do this for us.

[3] "Reviews are the lifeblood of warmshowers.org".
Nonsense! Guest cyclist MEETS host cyclist in his private habitat, is the lifeblood of warmshowers.org.

A touring cyclist with his kit and caboodle, heading to our home, will be staying with us. We feel very sad that in the future he would tell people in our neighbourhood that he made a reservation at our place.

Something else: How many active members have been consulted about this planned change?

Meanwhile we are having a blast this year again here in The Netherlands with great guests, and no, you can't trace all of them in reviews.

WS Member WS Member's picture
I already posted a thread to

I already posted a thread to ask about this, but I got no answer to my specific questions there. As usual, WS board members claim that certain features are necessary and highly demanded, but they provide no argumentation or proof. Even their rare and mostly meaningless posts here come across as an afterthought; they seem more interested in Facebook than their own site’s forum.

I think it is very creepy that Warm Showers is now aiming to closely monitor the connections that its members make among themselves, all in the name of "safety" which is really solely the responsibility of hosts and guests. A good hospitality exchange platform would provide contact information but otherwise stay out of the way. Plus, this language of reservations and calendars sounds straight out of commercial platforms like AirBnB.

WS Member WS Member's picture
It's maybe not so bad

We found some potential guest being non-responsive and not showing up after our confirmation. This is kind of understandable, because with declining response rates, people tend to send out several requests in parallel and then lose the overview. If a reservation system helps them to keep track, it's maybe not so bad.

But some comments are right regarding the wording, using "reservation" is not a good idea, WS is and should never turn into a hotel chain. Maybe use "Request handling" or similar.

WS Member WS Member's picture
RE: Reservation System and Apps

My primary hesitation with not having an app is not being able to search for hosts offline while travelling. When touring abroad, we sometimes don't have a data plan, or there is no service/wifi nearby. Being able to search for hosts in a pinch would be amazing - I use an iPhone and the current app crashes on me relentlessly.

After couchsurfing.org switched to their formal process of clicking through buttons to accept or decline, I more or less stopped using the website, because it became cumbersome.... just saying. You can increase transparency with simple improvements, like adding a dialogue box to enter the requested dates in the initial message. OR you could create a fun Travel Journal feature where riders share their travel records which can link to their hosts. If there was a simple button to "check in" that grabs our location at the end of the day, that would be a great way to track cyclists from a safety perspective and to give future riders an idea of what's feasible for daily progress. This would also be great as the hosts can see how their guest's travels progress.

Robert

WS Member WS Member's picture
It seems the idea of building

It seems the idea of building walls instead of bridges is very popular in these days politics throughout the world, but i never thought.it would come to warmshowers, the people running the site now are very arrogant and certainly dont listen to the real concerns. Go ahead and make it more complicated, make it more fancy,.make it a proffitable business, you dont make this community, we, travellers and hosts do, maybe its going to be us the ones "downgrading" going back to.the lists on paper or just moving to another website, as easy and simple as i every day set up my tent on a different place.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Just calling it "reservation"

Just calling it "reservation" it is scaring most people. Under this condition I would post prominently in my profile a say that whoever try to make a "reservation" would get automatically a refuse, and who want to come here have to send only personal messages.
It is not just the problem with neighbours but also with other entities that would change completely between an "temporary hospitality request" and a "reservation" . Many people could have no other choice to refuse anything called "reservation".

Reviews are the gamification of the social, nothing else. Who send a review do it wheter is solicitated or not. Often people do it only to have a better score.
It is that what we want ?
It is not as in commerce where the advertiser want to have good review that help it to sell more and then get more profit.
Otherwise happens what happened to me some months ago: one person sent me a request asking to stay beceause he never saw someone with so many references. After he left (after staying only one night) he left a negative reference complaining that there were many people at my home so it was no time to talk with everyone ...... My reply: if were not so many people in my home on certain days how would you think i could have received so many feedback ?

WS Member WS Member's picture
"Reservation"

Yes, reservation may be a poor choice in wording. It is actually a "confirmed request". There has to be an initial request before it is confirmed by the host. Hosts still have the choice to decline for any reason.

WS Member WS Member's picture
If the wording is "Confirmed

If the wording is "Confirmed Request", expect more drama when hosts occasionally feel they have to cancel on their guest last-minute – which is often regarded as their right, and the traveler’s duty to find other accommodation.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Instead of "confirmed" one

Instead of "confirmed" one could use "accepted" that is less strong.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Opt Out and Last Minute

Either word is fine. This is part of Phase II of the UI, and we still have time to work out wording and options. And as we have said before, hosts will be able to opt out of this feature if they choose to do so (making this a non issue).

As for a host making a last minute call off? I would want to know what "last minute" means. It makes sense if a cyclist cancels an hour or two before arrival if they were off schedule, but it seems off for a host to call off last minute. I think I would leave that host neutral feedback as way of communicating to other cyclists the reliability of this host. If the message calling off the hospitality exchange included local options, then a more positive feedback would be reflective of that.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Time to cancel and no show

There are ways and ways to cancel and so to deserve a negative or neutral feedback or not.
The person that had to be at 2000 and at 1910 call saying that cannot make since it is still at 80 km distance deserve a bad one since even at 18, before preparing dinner, would have known that could not make it.
The person in the same place that at 1800 call telling that she took a nap and did not wake up as expected at 1600 is more justifiable [i did once, but as a host, so I got waken by the guest ringing at door, he did not found the room cleaned but all ended there].
I had a person leaving me a bad reference since he had to wait in the sun from 1245 to 1600 since i refused to accept him before. The truth was that I had asked him to confirm before 9 the time would have arrived, so I could go out or before or after his arrival.
He called me to tell that had arrived at Firenze at 1215 when i had already left home so all that i could say is to wait me and come after 1600.
What to say of a host i had that told me that he would have been home between 1430 and 1530 and when I called at 1430 to confirm arrival time at 1520 told me that would have left in 30 minutes, so i had to wait until 1800 (not in a tourist place, just a 20 house village) ?

WS Member WS Member's picture
Frequent host HATES new "reservation" system

3 problems:

1. Much harder to check out potential guests. Before I invite someone into my home, I look at their profiles, etc, but you have made that more difficult. Why not have a button on the reply firm for "go to profile"?

2. I live in a big city. People often make multiple requests. To cut down on the hours wasted waiting around for flakes and wasted dinners , I've made confirming a two step process: I offer a place to stay, contingent on accepting in a timely fashion, and send my offline contact info,  reminding them to give me an arrival window within a couple of days of their stay. Only once a guest has accepted my offer do I send my address and confirm their stay. Without this mechanism to ensure that I don't waste my resources because of plain rudeness, I'm not sure I can offer to host. Why not a button in addition to "accept" , "decline" , and "check profile" : "send message"? 

3, and most important. This isn't Airbnb. It's a community. Perhaps the reservation system gives you better statistics (for grants?) but at the cost of killing the community. I will not accept "reservations."  I do invite guests into my home, frequently, about 10 - 15 times a year, depending on how much of the summer I spend bike touring myself.