Warm showers has changed. It feels like airBNB?

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WS Member WS Member's picture
Warm showers has changed. It feels like airBNB?

We are practically founder members and have hosted many cyclists on a directory long before Warmshowers became popular
In the past few years however the game has changed
We are almost always getting requests from cyclists who have just joined, have no address because they are 'on tour' and have no feedback from anyone who has stayed with them.
Cycle articles are full of references to 'want a cheap holiday - use warm showers'
This year we have had 4 requests, 3 have cancelled at very short notice (on the day)
The other faked it, saying he was cycling, when he arrived on foot, his hosting address turned out to be a hostel in Bristol.
I now think on accepting a cyclist 'Will they turn up, rather than when will they arrive?'

The last cyclist we actually hosted was last year

Basically I feel that it's loosing what it once was 'A mutual put up scheme.'
I've had enough, posting on my profile that you need to have been a member for a year and hosted someone in the past.

Thoughts?
Neil

WS Member WS Member's picture
We hosted for five years

We hosted for five years before we became guests. Sadly I have noticed the same in the last couple of years. One fellow still owes me bus fare that he 'borrowed' until he could get local currency. Not a big deal, just speaks to integrity. On the up side I'll never be broke. ;)

Now I wait and check profiles. If your hosting feedback is there I'll reply. Newbies with excellent feedback as guests will also get invites. We insist you arrive by bicycle and will refuse someone on foot.

WS Member WS Member's picture
There are always going to be

There are always going to be those who take and don't give back. Our experience here on the west coast of Canada has been largely positive but we have definitely seen an increase in requests from those who simply don't qualify as bicycle travellers.

Yes, there has been a change in the type of person we get on here but by and large the vast majority seem to be into the spirit of reciprocity in our personal experience. On the other hand I've also heard comments like "reserve" a warm showers, which reinforces the AirBNB mentality you mentioned.

I can understand your new requirements, especially if you're getting a large number of cancellations or "fake" cyclists. That must be seriously frustrating for long term members such as yourselves.

We simply require relevant information in the member's profile and wouldn't put those restrictions in place ourselves. But then we haven't had the same negative experiences as you have. We like to give new members a chance to become a valuable part of this community. Even though we know that some will drop out after their tour is done, as long as they're respectful of us and our home it's all OK.

Aside from simply not being available or not wanting to host we've only turned down two requests which we deemed "invalid". Both were arriving by car. One to do local trips while parking his car in our driveway, and one who wasn't even remotely travelling by bicycle.

...Michelle

WS Member WS Member's picture
re: Warm showers has changed. It feels like airBNB?

hey,
it sounds like an uncomfortable way to learn a valuable lesson: know yer boundaries.
I'm grateful to hear I'm not the only member here with a "two-wheeled filter" on potential touring guests.

Gerhardt

WS Member WS Member's picture
Spectrum of tourists

There is a spectrum out there of the types of people traveling the open roads. Some are touring the old fashioned way; camping, knocking on farm house doors, and disappearing into the night. These are the people who sprinkle WS stays in with their trip. Then there are those who set out relying on free accommodation with WS. Read their bios, look at their profile pic (if there is one), and see the effort they put into explaining themselves.

I have hosted great guests who have not left feedback, as well as "overly opportunistic guests" who have left me feedback. After hosting over 150 cyclists on a busy route, I no longer feel the need to house everyone who asks, and carefully choose who I open my doors to.

Note that I have a pretty extensive profile. I state I do no host members who do not have a profile pic and who also look like they will never giveback to the community.

And as for AirBnB, I do that as well. Due to the way the web site is set up, I almost always get a review. When the new WS site goes live later this summer, it will be set up like AirBnB to prompt people to leave feedback.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Thanks

Thankyou
Venting slightly has helped and I have tonight rewritten our profile
I guess like many we like to receive genuine cycle tourists that aren't simple out to take advantage. Running a trip going the dots between hosts to get a free holiday isn't in my opinion in the spirit of warm showers.
However we are in an area that although very scenic isn't on a recognised route so it's a balance between attracting visitors and trying to discourage the freeloaders. Maybe we've just been unlucky in the last year. The cyclist who cancelled with 3 hours to go saying that they'd pushed on to another host further along his/her route as they felt good that day was very apologetic when I quite firmly pointed out that to do this simply wasn't in the spirit of Warmshowers, so their's hope I guess
Neil

WS Member WS Member's picture
"The cyclist who cancelled

"The cyclist who cancelled with 3 hours to go saying that they'd pushed on to another host further along his/her route as they felt good that day was very apologetic when I quite firmly pointed out that to do this simply wasn't in the spirit of Warmshowers"

This is very much in the spirit of WS. I have had several potential guests who were feeling stronger than expected by late afternoon and decided to press on. WS is a hospex network that is supposed to take cyclists’ particular quirks and needs into account. Insisting that someone stop and stay with you even when they want to boldly press on, is IMO pretty inconsiderate of WS’s target demographic.

WS Member WS Member's picture
This is very much in the

This is very much in the spirit of WS. I have had several potential guests who were feeling stronger than expected by late afternoon and decided to press on. WS is a hospex network that is supposed to take cyclists’ particular quirks and needs into account. Insisting that someone stop and stay with you even when they want to boldly press on, is IMO pretty inconsiderate of WS’s target demographic.

So we're a disposable asset are we?
Someone asks we agree and they turn up or don't?
In reality, someone calls, we agree. We then make the bed, clear the house up and make it welcoming, shop for dinner, start preparing it and all for a total stranger.
Stranger meanwhile decides to finesse their hand, calls another host to make sure there is space then with that secure cancels the previous host.
I would NEVER do that.

I've cycled all over the world, thoughtfulness is part of the deal, all this does is leave a bad taste to the detriment of others
Neil

WS Member WS Member's picture
"So we're a disposable asset

"So we're a disposable asset are we?"

Not at all, as what is good for the goose is good for the gander: when you are on the road, you should be able to expect the same ability to revise your schedule as your guests.

"We then make the bed, clear the house up and make it welcoming, shop for dinner, start preparing it and all for a total stranger."

For ages and ages now, common advice on hospex networks is that a host, to avoid burnout, should not make any especial effort to prepare his house and cook before the guest has arrived. Otherwise, any cancellation is just going to end in heartbreak.

Plus, a lot of guests are not expecting to eat dinner with the host – in fact, in my experience, often they would appreciate some alone time to rest and use the internet on their first night staying with the host. So, cooking dinner and then presenting it to the guest as a fiat accompli before he has even arrived, is uncomfortably putting that guest on the spot. Let them at least arrive first and then gauge their needs.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Burnout, what burn out? You

Burnout, what burn out? You've had 3 guests leave feedback in 3 years. Likewise we get maybe 2 guests a year. The vast majority on Warmshowers get the occasional guest and we do it because we like to do it.
I'd be extraordinarily uncomfortable, saying 'Hello, there's your spot for the night, let yourself out in the morning.
If a guest wants to shut themselves away from a host rather than interact with their host, pay for a hotel, it's that simple
Interesting that you rail against the increased commercialisation of Warmshowers but seem to think that a 'hotel like behaviour' is acceptable.
Neil

WS Member WS Member's picture
"Burnout, what burn out?"

"Burnout, what burn out?"

You're the one complaining about guests doing very common things. Evidentally the few guests you say you've had, have already been too much for you with your un-ideal approach to hosting.

"If a guest wants to shut themselves away from a host rather than interact with their host, pay for a hotel"

Again, in my experience, most guests do want to eventually interact with their host, but often not straight away on the first night when they are tired and/or they need to blog or message friends or family. Any support network for travelers should understand this need and allow the guest some time to catch their breath and open up when they feel ready. After all, a lot of hosts are busy people and have plenty of things they could be doing themselves while the guest goes and does his/her own thing.

"Interesting that you rail against the increased commercialisation of Warmshowers but seem to think that a 'hotel like behaviour' is acceptable."

I'm not active in hospex to be entertained by my guests (though that is occasionally a bonus), I am here to further mobility and to encourage people to travel regardless of their means – in the case of WS, that would be by bike. I'm not advocating for completely impersonal 'hotel-like behaviour', but if you want to put guests at ease in a way that can result in a positive experience for both parties and maybe some great friendships, then you can't demand too much from them initially or make them feel they have to walk on eggshells. WS is a support network, after all.

WS Member WS Member's picture
You're the one complaining

You're the one complaining about guests doing very common things. Evidentally the few guests you say you've had, have already been too much for you with your un-ideal approach to hosting.

If you're going to argue something, please get your facts right.
we have been hosting for years. I ran the UK equivalent long before Warm Showers took of in the way it has. We have had many guests stay over the 22 years we've been doing this.

My initial post states that I have noticed a change and with your reply it seems that I may be right.

Your view is that I am 'supporting the right to further mobility and travel regardless of their means' That's fine, but it doesn't mean that you should treat a potential host as a disposable commodity.

Neil

WS Member WS Member's picture
For ages and ages now,...

Quote C.C.:
For ages and ages now, common advice on hospex networks is that a host, to avoid burnout, should not make any especial effort to prepare his house and cook before the guest has arrived. Otherwise, any cancellation is just going to end in heartbreak.

These matters as discussed here above are mentioned several times earlier on this forum.
My standard is: the host makes the rules of his house, the way he offers bed/space, meals and other facilities. The most important condition is to write these very clearly in the host's profile.
Anybody is free to make personal ways of living and conditions.

A guest HAS to read the host's profile very well before he contacts the him. If the guest asks for shelter, he/she adapts to the hosts house rules.
As I stated before (and which is shown in my profile): I am not a "free hotel, restaurant, or whatever".
I make my extended preparations for a guest and if a guest cancels the visit 3 hours before time of arrival, just because this guest 'wants to make a longer ride", I consider this as rude.

However when a guest wants to enjoy this freedom of short-term-cancelling, he just has to mention that in the contact with the host.
If both agree with that, nothing is wrong with short-term-cancelling.
Any misunderstanding and negative emotions can be avoided when host AND guest know exactly (and respect) their mutual wishes, rules, assumptions or conditions.
Keywords: be clear on both sides!

WS Member WS Member's picture
"The most important condition

"The most important condition is to write these very clearly in the host's profile. ... A guest HAS to read the host's profile very well before he contacts the him."

That is not guaranteed to ensure a smooth experience, either. Another piece of common advice on hospex communities is: Don't expect your guests to necessarily read your profile. I've had loads of guests over the years who quite clearly did not read the text on my profile. (For example, they arrived without a sleeping bag back when I was hosting in a spartan student flat, where I said they would definitely need to bring their own bedding.)

One has to consider that travelers are often pressed for time when on the road. They need to send out a bunch of requests quickly while they have time, internet access, and/or mobile phone or laptop battery. I have also had a couple of WS guests from Asia with very limited English skills, so that even trying to write in non-native friendly English on one's profile would make too much effort for them. If a host does have rules that run contrary to common cyclist behavior, then you just have to expect the occasional unpleasant experience regardless of how much effort you put into your profile.

WS Member WS Member's picture
If a host does have rules that run contrary to common .......

" If a host does have rules that run contrary to common cyclist behavior.."

Question: what is "common cyclist behavior"? Are there studies or statistics about that?

If WS-members, for what for reason, do not communicate enough, do not read each others profile properly or do not speak the language good enough than they miss (for me at least) the most basic conditions for a good understanding of other WS-members in the host/.guest contact..
The world with all our wide legitimate differences is only agreable with (good ) "communication" at any level.

Our roads split up when the endless freedom of impulsive decisions determine the behaviour of potential guests and the host/guest-appointments have no value at all.
So be it.

My contribution to WS is being clear in my opinion, conditions, behaviour, expectations, offers as a host and speaking enough English to make myself understandable.
If some WS-member can't understand these matters, go ahead, but, please, skip my door.

WS Member WS Member's picture
" Due to the way the web site

" Due to the way the web site is set up, I almost always get a review. When the new WS site goes live later this summer, it will be set up like AirBnB to prompt people to leave feedback."

You posting this, Ken, just confirms my fears and what everyone on WS should fear. The more rule-bound and corporate-like a hospex network becomes – and obligatory click-throughs for stays are definitely very corporate-like compared to earlier WS or the successful longtime hospex networks – the less the feeling of true community and trust among the members. All of the terrible problems that members complain about now will only be magnified by the site continuing on in this direction.

WS Member WS Member's picture
so far only dedicated long distance cyclists have visited me

but your writings make me aware that these types of tourists might write requests.

WS Member WS Member's picture
The final thought

I guess I started this, so here's my conclusion having read closely those who have posted.

Anyone who remembers Roger Gravels list, the League of American Wheelmen or the UK's own hospitality list that I ran for 15 years knows that a mutual scheme has been around far longer than Warm Showers.
In offering hospitality a host offers their house, food and personal space to complete strangers. When we toured the world 20 years ago we stayed with 6 hosts. In all we were respectful of their needs. If they offered us dinner we ate it, if they wanted to talk we did. In essence we were guests in their house and we would act as such. They are doing you a huge service NOT the other way around.
I've read other parts to this forum and have read tales of multiple requests, hiding in rooms plotting the next host and expecting that the guest is doing the host a favour.
My view and I hope of many is that the guest owes the host 100% of their courtesy.

My question here (my first departure into this forum) was simply "Have things changed' and it looks from a minority that in fact they have. It seems that the guest has free will do do what they like, and for one poster it is in the spirit of travel, and it got a little personal suggesting that in fact I was inadequate because I couldn't cope with being let down.

Warm Showers like it's predecessors is easy. Treat you host with respect because for many including ourselves due to work and family commitments we can't tour as often as we like, so look forward to the occasional request, it enriches our lives, so don't abuse that.

Neil

WS Member WS Member's picture
This thread has run its course

So we all agree that there are different styles of hosting, and different styles of hosting. As we near membership of 100,000, the community is going to be made up of several different kinds of people. This is no longer a small website that one person ran as a hobby.

With the new website, there will be several new features, such as a "reservation confirmation". And some hosts may chose an option of "opting out" of this feature.

This population, this community, this website, what ever you choose to call it, gains and loses members every year. This could be due to burn out, loss of interest, loss of availability, just to name a few reasons. Overall, membership is on the rise. We are presently averaging 125-150 new members a day. The new website will be able to handle the growth, and should be flexible enough to handle the subtle differences within the community.

I am going to close this thread. Let me suggests that we take time to make sure our profiles reflect what we hope to get out of our Warmshowers experiences, as well as our expectations. Host who you want to host and request hosting opportunities from those you choose to stay with, but respect each others' differences.

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