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Why I am thinking of quitting Warmshowers - terrible communication from most "hosts"

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WS Member WS Member's picture
Why I am thinking of quitting Warmshowers - terrible communication from most "hosts"

Since being on Warmshowers the last 2 years, we have hosted more than 200 people and met some great cycle tourists. However, I am getting just about nothing out of Warmshowers in terms of being hosted. The majority of people I write to never reply. Or if they do reply it is long after I have already gone by, a week or more after I emailed them. I reply to people within a day of receiving their emails and usually sooner, particularly if they are relatively close. It seems that the developing situation is that no reply means "no". If this is the case I think I am done with the system because to me no reply means "impolite" - you are always waiting and hoping up till the last minute that they just got delayed and haven't got around to replying. It also means that you have to flood everyone in an area with a request as if you ask one by one you will certainly never get a yes. The impression I am getting is that most people on Warmshowers are looking for a free place to stay but not a system in which to reciprocate.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Not all Reciprocate

Several people leave WS every year at the end of their tour, done with the service and do not stay involved to host.  These people have no intention to recipricate.  There are also several people every year who are no longer cyclists, or never were cyclists, but sign up to host cyclists because they have an interest in doing so.

Make your WS experience what you want it to be.  Pace yourself as a host and do not let yourself get burned out.  Warmshowers was originally meant to be offer occasional supplemental accomodations.  As more hosts have dotted the maps, some members started to use WS as a stepping stone from location to location, moving away from the origins of bicycle touring adventure.  This is usually reflective in someone's profile (one clue; "Not available to host until 1/1/50").  

Please, participate in WS and enjoy the experience.  This may mean being more selective in your criteria in who to host, and nopt have expectations about being hosted when traveling. 

WS Member Chris_A's picture
To me it is clear that there

To me it is clear that there are many non-active profiles on warmshowers. Two pieces of advice when asking for a host: 1. Try to find someone who already has some (positive) feedback, and, maybe even more importantly, 2. ask someone in whose profile you see that he/she has been active on warmshowers very recently.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Totally agree ..

with your second point.

But for that, it should be possible to add 'last connection time' in the filters ..

Regards

 

 

WS Member WS Member's picture
Re: 'last connection time' filter

Jean Pierre, no. It should not be a filter because inactivity does not say someone is not listening.

Look at people like me. I am not active on the WS website. Normally I don't use it, sometimes I don't log in for several month. But in less than 60 minutes I register a request and answer because WS routes the requests to my mail.

A really good filter could be the percent of answered requests. Next week I am on tour again and during my research I see:
- (0 responses to 6 requests over the past year)
-(0 responses to 5 requests over the past year)
-(26 responses to 31 requests over the past year) = 84%
- (9 responses to 10 requests = 90%)
- (14 responses to 51 requests over the past year) = 27%
- (0 responses to 6 requests over the past year)

1st:
Kick out the 0% people, who do not respond, from WS immediately after one year of membership. Noone will miss them. My experience is that nearly every request I get, is a request which is worth to be answered. It takes two minutes to answer - and I often say no.
2nd:
Create a filter for the percentage of responses. If I could filter out the people who responds more than 30% would be very helpful because my intention on WS is to meet the 'real' cyclists. These people are rare to find.

cu, Kai-Peter

WS Member WS Member's picture
I joined Warmshowers a while

I joined Warmshowers a while back, and have observed pretty much the same thing as you. Initially I sent requests to just one or two people and waited for a response, but quickly realised that this approach simply didn't work and that the best thing to do was to 'flood' requests to a lot of people simultaneously and hope that a few reply, i.e. to fish for responses. Personally I respond to all requests (although I'm not exactly submerged by them so it's not a problem), but it appears that a lot of people simply don't bother.
That said, it's not something that's specific to Warmshowers - when I advertise stuff on a small ads site I sometimes get enquiries which I respond promptly to and then 'the line goes dead', or one-line messages for stuff I've listed along the lines of 'I'll give you such-and-such in cash' (usually a fraction of the asking price), no 'Hello' or any other unnecessary forms of politeness (I initially responded, now I just bin such messages).
I guess some people consider that in the websphere they don't need to behave in the same way they would do when dealing with someone face to face, so politeness and courtesy can be done away with :-(

WS Member WS Member's picture
"Flake Factor"

Before the days of Meet-Up! I belonged to an online outdoors club.  I hosted several kayaking and social events.  All of us leaders learned to consider the "flake factor"; members who would sign up to several events on the same day and later decide which ONE to choose (rarely bothering to contact a leader or drop off the event).  

I do believe people in general have learned to de-personalize others who are only an image on their phone or computer screen.  This goes far beyond WS.

BTW, Good manners never go out of style.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Don't go

Hello,

The same behavior can be seen with CouchSurfing, I was getting requests for people not even checking where I live (35km away from Geneva in Switerland) and sending me template requests which I would reject right away...

With WS, I have been lucky and always got responses... I would not send requests to person that didn't connect for a long time.

Despite have a very badly unorganized online form, being a part of WS is being a part of a community. I like being a part of it, and nevermind if other use it in a bad way, what is important is the opportunities of meeting new people.

Alexandre

WS Member WS Member's picture
Changing mentality?

As stated above by different members we may conclude that during the years the reaction pattern of hosts ànd guests change. WS is a reflection of our society where individualism influences general behaviour. As a WS-member for over 15 years  - and having cycled my entire life - I can confirm most of these matters. It's not a complain, just a finding. Too bad if WS-members are annoyed, but good to post these opinions here.

As said many times before in previous forum discussions: Present clearly your way of hosting , read thoroughly the guests profiles and feedbacks, look at the response rate, the last time the guest checked his/her account, give room to your gut feeling and don't hesitate to post an appropriate feedback. As guest you will have to adapt to the slowly decreasing responsiveness of hosts. During our travels we often approach just the locals living along the road to put up our tent, or ask them to use their barn, instead of going through the hassle of doubtful  (=no?) reactions of WS-hosts. It's a choice.

Everywhere are friendly, hospitable people. The purpose of WS is nice, but you don't need members to have a roof over your head every night.Be flexible.Around every corner is a dry place. (Unless your demands and expectations are very high...)

WS Member Keith Gabriel's picture
Terrible communications from most hosts

Well said , I agree , after returning from the UK I found  hosts wanted a weeks notice ,   One had moved addresses to a diferent city. My experience doing the End to End  was it took up a lot of time and no positive results, As a cyclist if you are casualy cycling about and not concerned with getting there it seems fime , we have hosted a few times already the guests have been more casuall cyclists (first timers) who seem to build there day's around where they can find free spaces to stay, One  spent more time on busses than cycling. 

I think Warm Shower would do better going for quality hosts as aposed to quantity , It looks impresive when looking in a area and seeing lots highlighted , thats about it .  

WS Member WS Member's picture
.

as has been said before ad nauseam : make the "Default" setting "unavailable' AND remove " unavailables" from any map. They are a waste of Travelers' time

WS Member WS Member's picture
I agree entirely!

I've found it really difficult to get hosted when we travel in Europe.  The most success we have had is when able to give weeks and weeks notice due to the request being for the first or last place on a trip and therefore had an ability to give an exact day.  That said we've also had a very poor response, or no response at all when trying to find hosts even weeks out.   This happened lately when trying to find somewhere to stay in Portugal/Lisboa.  We either had no reply or the reply we had was very curt and unwelcoming.  I've hosted quite a bit and found most people I've had as guests have only given us a couple of day's notice at most, and at times only a number of hours, but that's the nature of the beast I would have thought. We resort to using AirB&B and have had fabulous experiences and welcomes; most notably lately from a woman, Margarida, in Lisboa who stored our bike boxes and ferried us to and from the airport and really put herself out for us!!!  Other AirB&B hosts have been very welcoming too but of course they are getting a fairly good income from being welcoming!  It has cost us a bit for accommodation in the proces but fortunately we can afford it, but would rather use Warmshowers to meet like minded cyclo tourists around the world.  I think this is an issue Warmshowers admin need to address as a lot of people seem to be on the register for their own benefit without wanting to host/give back!!   Partly due to this I am currently marked as "Not available"!

WS Member WS Member's picture
It's just too big isn't it?

A recent communication to everyone proudly said 'we're increasing by 100 members a week' 

Put that into perspective, that's 5200 / year

The largest other hospitality directory for cyclists out there is based in Germany and has 5000 members built up over many years with a sprinkling of International contacts. It costs about $15/year to remain a part of it and a book is produced every year with names and maps. We've used it a few times as have a reciprical arrangement with the UK list and it works well. 

The concept of warmshowers is great but it is a comparitively recent list in the cycling world swallowing up the orriginal 2 to 3 US lists. 

What you have now in my honest opinion is a list that is frankly far too large because the genuine visitors who will recipricate are being drowned out by those that simply wish to use it in a non hosting capicity. In effect the whole network is being maintained by a core of dedicated people who want to host and I would think that they would have been on those orriginal lists.

So to the warmshowers directorship, you have a problem. If you continue to proudly claim that you have a zillion cyclists on the list then the experience of those that genuinely hold the values of reciprication will be so diluted that they will turn their back on the very thing that makes this idea such a good one and after a terrible year in 2017, having hosted for many years, I'm at that point.

    Neil

WS Member WS Member's picture
New Membership

I have served as Registrar for the organization for about the last 4 years.  This means I review a report of new members daily (Presently, Seth and Farid also help review new membership).  We drop to about 35 new members daily in December, and peak around 200 new members daily in July.  I can tell when an article is written about WS because membership in a certain region will spike for a few days.

I hear your concern.  It was just too easy for anyone to sign up to WS and then never host and never tour., thus being marked "available", just taking up space on the map.  Because of this, things have changed: We have fully expanded the profile when signing up.  It takes much more thought and effort now to create a new profile for WS.  The minimum wording has been expanded from 15 words to 50 words.  New profiles with nonsense, or "filler words" are instantly deleted. Most profiles without refrences to traveling by bicycle are deleted.  For-pay hostels are deleted.  I must say that since we upgraded the new membership template, the quality of profiles has drastically improved.

Lastly, we are about to delete all members who have not logged into the site in the last year.  We perform a yearly purge (we send out notices to all who have not logged in for 1 year or longer and ask them to do so before making this deletion).  Last year we deleted about 30,000 inactive members worldwide!

We understand your concern as share it with you!  The best thing members can do when searching for a host is to look at "response rate", and give all hosts/guests feedback.  Low response rate tells the world the member is not active and a high level of feedback says the opposite!

WS Member WS Member's picture
Thankyou

Great to see you are on top of it and doing the best you can.

To Duncan, yes it isn't Warmshowers fault, it really came to prominence with the internet age, something the 'orriginal' lists didn't get to grips with, so starting a new one would simply go back in time. In the case of the German list it's not on the internet, you need to pay an annual fee and that's what keeps it as it is, Warmshowers is different, they each fill a niche

It sounds like Ken at al are making a real effort for the benefit of the list, so thankyou.

     Neil

 

WS Member WS Member's picture
That's all true, but it's

That's all true, but it's hardly the fault of Warmshowers. As such sites become more popular, there will always be some bad apples in the bunch, and there's not a great deal that the site administrators can do about it. Potential hosts/guests should leave feedback so that potential hosts/guests can judge whether a member is reliable or not, since that's about the only indicator that can be provided. I admit that I initially found the very low response rates a bit offputting, but that's the nature of the beast I guess and it hasn't stopped me finding some great hosts. I also confess to personally never having hosted anyone yet, not because I don't want to reciprocate, but simply because every time I could have I was away cycling myself or otherwise unavailable.

The site may not be perfect, but at least it exists - I guess you could leave the site and set up another one with a shiny mission statement declaring that only 'true' members who really want to reciprocate will be accepted, but at the end of the day there's nothing stopping it facing exactly the same drawbacks that the Warmshowers site is faced with now after a few years.

WS Member WS Member's picture
finis ?

Can anything more usefully be said here ? 

WS Member WS Member's picture
No answer

I really enjoy hosting cyclists from all over the world. I achieved a 2500km trip from Paris to Oslo and was not able to be hosted a single time. I tried a few times but was discouraged by the time consuming process: in large cities, one has many potential hosts but it takes a long time to read their profile and/or get to their answering rate. I suggest (for the second time) that the answering rate be included in the pop up when you click on a place on the map. It would save a lot of time.

Another thing I might do would be to refuse to host anybody that has an answering rate lower than 60 or 70%. I am not too fond of this solution but I am getting fed up. Hopefully I will fell better in a little while and reconsider, but it is really too bad that so many members don’t bother to answer.

 

WS Member WS Member's picture
I had a request this evening,

I had a request this evening, saw a notification on my mobile. Then I logged in to the site, using my browser on android. 

But I could not find the messages. There are lots of buttons ("Donate" is prominent) and pretty pictures and other stuff, and I felt stupid, but I really could not find where the messages were.

So then I tried the app, although it has been discontinued. That worked, and I could write an answer.

So I believe that the new website is a large part of the problem. 

WS Member WS Member's picture
We completely agree with

We completely agree with Catherine Parrish, We did most of the EV6 route last year(2017) with an added twist of the CAAR route added. We travelled through many towns and cities and had the same discouraging issues with trying to find a responsive host. Responsive rate should be listed beside their name. the first thing that you see. 

WS Member WS Member's picture
We completely agree with

We completely agree with Catherine Parrish. We did a route of about 5500km (part of EV6 and the CAAR route) . We traveled through a number of towns and cites, we had the same discouraging experience as Catherine. The responsive rate should be beside the name of the host. We managed to only stay with one warm showers host and that was arranged before we got to Europe for our first day. 

Generally we host is anywhere up to 30 requests a year and turn down almost as many so we understand how the sytem works.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Good People Cyclists

I've been a WS member for a year plus...I had inquiries when I lived in Portland the people didn't show.  One guy passed by thinking he had a better offer with a friend but reported later that didn't work out.   I moved to a coastal town on the 101 in Oregon and I'm hosting here.   I've had six guests in a month and another arrives tomorrow; they've all been great and the experience very rewarding for me.  

I state clearly on my profile to text me because I don't respond quickly to email and I don't log-on WS every day and request that people follow-up with a WS email.  Everyone has been able to follow these simple requests, the guests have been great, kind, courteous, and respectful.  There have been just a couple of people who made plans to arrive, then later decided to pass by.....they followed up to let me know their plans had changed....no hard feelings.  

I'm sad to see that people are disappointed with WS, because, I hope to be hosted on my travels.  I've also followed some of my guests and casually contacted their subsequent hosts, introducing myself with some casual chit-chat...kinda planning my own ride and laying some positive groundwork for the future. 

I agree with some of the earlier posts.  It would be good to clear out some dead wood in the membership, people have good intentions and impulsively join but it really isn't their thing..... but....isn't it just as easy to review the stats of a host/guest?  If you're disappointed by flakes or rude behavior....note it on the profile of the participant.  From my perspective; WS is a tool to find like-minded people and it seems to work, like any tool, if it is used effectively for the right task.  It's not a guarantee and, as in life, there are some who are very able with tools and others that fumble.  I can be patient with people who make an effort and fail; I have no patience for people who have an agenda to exploit a public/social good or take undue advantage.   

I'm reluctant to blame a website or a tool for poor results; social media doesn't alleviate the need for social skills and personal accountability.   

 

WS Member WS Member's picture
Good People Cyclists

I've been a WS member for a year plus...I had inquiries when I lived in Portland the people didn't show.  One guy passed by thinking he had a better offer with a friend but reported later that didn't work out.   I moved to a coastal town on the 101 in Oregon and I'm hosting here.   I've had six guests in a month and another arrives tomorrow; they've all been great and the experience very rewarding for me.  

I state clearly on my profile to text me because I don't respond quickly to email and I don't log-on WS every day and request that people follow-up with a WS email.  Everyone has been able to follow these simple requests, the guests have been great, kind, courteous, and respectful.  There have been just a couple of people who made plans to arrive, then later decided to pass by.....they followed up to let me know their plans had changed....no hard feelings.  

I'm sad to see that people are disappointed with WS, because, I hope to be hosted on my travels.  I've also followed some of my guests and casually contacted their subsequent hosts, introducing myself with some casual chit-chat...kinda planning my own ride and laying some positive groundwork for the future. 

I agree with some of the earlier posts.  It would be good to clear out some dead wood in the membership, people have good intentions and impulsively join but it really isn't their thing..... but....isn't it just as easy to review the stats of a host/guest?  If you're disappointed by flakes or rude behavior....note it on the profile of the participant.  From my perspective; WS is a tool to find like-minded people and it seems to work, like any tool, if it is used effectively for the right task.  It's not a guarantee and, as in life, there are some who are very able with tools and others that fumble.  I can be patient with people who make an effort and fail; I have no patience for people who have an agenda to exploit a public/social good or take undue advantage.   

I'm reluctant to blame a website or a tool for poor results; social media doesn't alleviate the need for social skills and personal accountability.   

 

WS Member WS Member's picture
Agreed

I've just returned from a trip around Northern Europe and yup a little disapointed with Warmshowers. We are not short of money so the cost element wasn't a factor in trying to get hosted. What I was looking for was a community where I could meet fellow cycle tourers and get some local knowledge about routes further along. In 10 weeks and from England to Estonia we was hosted twice (A great couple of hostes) my problem was the no reply's, at the end it was becoming not worth my time emailing people, you spend an hour or so emailing and get very few responces it was dishearting to say the least. 

WS Member WS Member's picture
The problem is the web interface

I believe that the problem is not with the hosts but with the software.

Just now, I got a message by some cyclists that they would like to stay. I noticed that from the pling in the app on my android (not supported), I see there is a message in my mail.

So I log in on the site. No notification here. So what does one do next? The web site in the Chrome browser on my phone does not show what to do.  One needs to click one's own face to go to "My Profile". If I then click "My Hosts" or "My Guests" I get "You have not sent any stay requests." and "No Guest(s) Found !!"

I suppose that at this stage most hosts will have given up on this incredibly stupid interface.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Completely agree. We are

Completely agree with Barry W. We are looking for the same things as you are. 

WS Member WS Member's picture
Tough to find the genuine hosts

I've commented before on this thread and having run hospitality lists before Warm Showers there are numerous issues that are really tough for Warm Showers to get  grip of

In my opinion the issue is that it is far to easy to remain on this list. 

You can sign up, respond once a year to an automated E Mail and there you go. Looking at the numbers who sign up for Warm Showers I simply cannot believe that so many cyclists are touring as many of us do. I'd even go so far as to say that there are many on here that frankly have no intention of hosting. Personally I feel that warm showers is flooded with these.

Take an example, look at Seattle or Vancouver as I have recently, the numbers are extraordinary, but the signs are there. Multiple cyclists at a single location, no feedback, unavailable for hosting, need I go on?

It takes an awful amount of time to pick through these lists in a city and here's the important point. It is diluting out those cyclists that are genuine hosts because they can't be found in a sea of entries.

In my opinion, the whole thing needs stripping back to genuine touring cyclists offering a place to stay the night where we are grateful that anything is offered (see other posts about picky guests) The orriginal American list was 300 long. If you contacted anyone on this list they were delighted to host and responded, the list was used as an addition to your tour, not as a free place to stay. Maybe I'm old fashioned like Barry, but it's just got too big hasn't it?

   Neil

WS Member WS Member's picture
A thought

I would like to see an option where you can sort hosts for an area by response rates. There's a person in Tallinn that has had 90 requests and not responded once. Why ate they still on here? Live and let live but at least respond once in a while.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Could not Find

I looked and could not find this person.  Are they still marked as available to host?

WS Member WS Member's picture
Stranger and stranger

Yer had another look as well and can't find that person either. There was someone there, I pointed them out to my travel partner, he didn't believe me until I let him see for himself. Very strange.

WS Member WS Member's picture
"In my opinion, the whole

"In my opinion, the whole thing needs stripping back to genuine touring cyclists offering a place to stay the night."

I agree that trimming the visible hosts might help, but please don’t think this has to mean limiting active hosts only to "genuine touring cyclists". There are a number of general hospitality-exchange activists who are not cyclists themselves, but they signed up for WS so that they could host more people. As long as a host is active and welcoming of cyclists and their quirks, it shouldn’t matter whether they tour themselves.

WS Member WS Member's picture
A lot of good ideas have been submitted ...

in this conversation and on the whole forum. At least this is the sign problems a lot of warmshowers are facing ...

what is, or what will be, the response of the board ? 

WS Member WS Member's picture
Strategic Planning

The Board is having a strategic planning session this weekend. We are aware of members’ concerns.  We hope to prioritize and address these issues in effort of building a stronger site and more cohesive community. 

WS Member WS Member's picture
Strategic Meeting

I'm pleased that there is a concern for these matters and concerns of riders and hosts...and, particularly for a positive approach for addressing those concerns. 

In the discussion; perhaps, it would be useful for a rating system for individual posts on these threads. 

In this thread; It seems that there are many who have hosted and have difficulty finding hosts but rather than simply 'agreeing' with someone who has commented each must submit a unique post of agreement to the thread.  It becomes a little redundant and....sadly, in this case, disheartening. 

I'm very pleased with WS; I have hosted more than 15 riders over the past 8 weeks.  I have enjoyed them all and learned so much and never encountered an issue.  I'm sure that there are a fair number of people who sign-up with the best of intentions but......as is frequently the case.....they find that the actual doing/hosting is more than they are prepared to accommodate. 

I definitely agree that they should be 'weeded'.  Perhaps, by sending an automated email to which they must respond to maintain their "available for hosting status"....and, if they fail to respond in a few days confirming they are "active" then their status is changed to 'Inactive'.

WS Member WS Member's picture
Strategic Meeting

I'm pleased that there is a concern for these matters and concerns of riders and hosts...and, particularly for a positive approach for addressing those concerns. 

In the discussion; perhaps, it would be useful for a rating system for individual posts on these threads. 

In this thread; It seems that there are many who have hosted and have difficulty finding hosts but rather than simply 'agreeing' with someone who has commented each must submit a unique post of agreement to the thread.  It becomes a little redundant and....sadly, in this case, disheartening. 

I'm very pleased with WS; I have hosted more than 15 riders over the past 8 weeks.  I have enjoyed them all and learned so much and never encountered an issue.  I'm sure that there are a fair number of people who sign-up with the best of intentions but......as is frequently the case.....they find that the actual doing/hosting is more than they are prepared to accommodate. 

I definitely agree that they should be 'weeded'.  Perhaps, by sending an automated email to which they must respond to maintain their "available for hosting status"....and, if they fail to respond in a few days confirming they are "active" then their status is changed to 'Inactive'.

WS Member WS Member's picture
maybe sending every three

maybe sending every three months a messge automatically that need to be answered to keep the status as "active" is the best way.