WarmShowers - a note from recent experience - CycleBlaze

Bicycle Travel Forum

WarmShowers - a note from recent experience

Keith Adams

WarmShowers recently updated their website.  In so doing, it appears that the "Request These Dates" feature that you're supposed to use to ask for a stay at a host home no longer sends anything to the intended host.  I don't know whether it did before the revamp, or even if the feature existed then, but right now it seems to do NOTHING.

My basis for this claim is that I used it to reach out, or so I thought, to something like eight or ten potential hosts along a tour route I was planning.  I did so well in advance of the tour, so that everyone would have time to prepare accordingly.  I got exactly ZERO responses to those requests.

Later, while following up using the regular "Send this person a message" feature, I inquired of a couple of them whether they had gotten my earlier requests sent using the other feature.  They replied that they had heard nothing, until my second reach-out.

So, the moral of my tale of woe is this: I would recommend NOT using "Request These Dates" and instead using the "Send a message" feature to specify when you are hoping to stay.

I haven't tried the WS mobile app beyond installing it and trying to look at the map- it's virtually unusable, or at least that's my experience.  It's incredibly slow and cumbersome, and not worth the time it takes to install then remove it.  Again, that's one person's opinion based on a very limited exposure.

It seems WS has undergone a change of leadership within the past couple years, and with it a change in philosophy.  Comments floating around on the interweb, ostensibly from former \e\m\p\l\o\y\e\e\s  volunteers, indicate that the new junta are focused on revenue generation rather than good service and creating and maintaining a superior product.

The WS hosts I did manage to contact were great, and I had a wonderful stay in Richmond at my one-and-only WS host home last week.  It's the management that seems to be the problem.

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3 weeks ago
Jeff LeeTo Keith Adams

Yeah, the attempts at "professionalizing" what used to be a charmingly kinda-amateurish operation is a turnoff for me. The whole thing could be (and if I understand correctly, used to be) a volunteer-run thing.

I'm especially against the idea of a paying a professional administrator  more than a 100 grand to run what is really a pretty simple, straightforward thing. I don't think money should be changing hands in any way whatsoever in a reciprocal hospitality thing like WS.

Check this out.

Hopefully it won't be ruined like Couchsurfing.

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3 weeks ago
Mike AylingTo Jeff Lee

Where do the "contributions" come from?

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3 weeks ago
Leo WoodlandTo Jeff Lee

What happened to Couchsurfing? I've never used it but it'd be interesting to know

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3 weeks ago
Keith AdamsTo Mike Ayling

They charge a one-time fee to register and use the site.  They charge an additional  recurring subscription fee to use the mobile app.

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3 weeks ago
Keith AdamsTo Jeff Lee

Very interesting link Jeff- thanks.  It's odd that there's no "notable expense" for actually hosting and operating the site, although that must surely account for at least a  large fraction of the ~$200K of expenses that didn't go into the CEO's pocket.

I agree that it could / should be more a labor of love than a way to make a living.  I wonder how many other nonprofits the CEO oversees and provides "management services" for, to the tune of a similar amount of cash annually?

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3 weeks ago
Jeff LeeTo Leo Woodland

The short answer is that the Couchsurfing founders converted it to a for-profit company, and then took millions of dollars in venture capital money to try to turn it into a real business, ruining it in the process.

There are lots of articles on the internet about it; Here's one.

I see some parallels in what's going on with Warmshowers,  but ultimately I think the number of bicycle tourists in the world is so small that it won't attract the money and attention that screwed up Couchsurfing.

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3 weeks ago
Brent IrvineTo Keith Adams

- deleted -

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3 weeks ago
Jeff LeeTo Keith Adams

I was also curious about how much WS spends on hosting their website, and how much they've spent on their widely-disparaged native mobile apps. As a software developer, I always find stuff like that interesting.

I assume those numbers are broken out in their annual report, but I haven't found it (or any annual reports from previous  years) yet.

I did find some other interesting/disturbing stuff. Here are a couple blog posts by a guy who was kicked off WS. The first one is a post where he criticizes some aspects of the direction taken by WS in recent years. The second one describes how he was threatened with legal action by a lawyer hired by WS after his criticism (!)

Part One

Part Two

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3 weeks ago
Keith AdamsTo Jeff Lee

Fascinating stuff, and entirely consistent with the tantalizing bits and pieces I've heard and read elsewhere.

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3 weeks ago