Couchsurfing International Inc. is a hospitality exchange and social networking website. The website provides a platform for members to “surf” on couches by staying as a guest at a host’s home, host travelers, or join an event.
Couchsurfing is a neologism referring to the practice of moving from one friend’s house to another, sleeping in whatever spare space is available, floor or couch, generally staying a few days before moving on to the next house. The term pre-existed the website in vernacular usage; for example, “Couch Surfer” was the title of a song by Bran Van 3000 written in the 90s.
The Hospitality Club is an international, Internet-based hospitality service of approximately 707,000 members in 231 countries. Its members use the website HospitalityClub.org to coordinate accommodation and other services, such as guiding or regaling travelers. Hospitality Club is currently the second largest such hospitality network.
The club is based on the work of hundreds of volunteers around the world. The motivation behind it is the idea that bringing people together and fostering international friendships will increase inter cultural understanding and strengthen peace. It is one of the largest hospitality networks, and there is a mission to find 1,000,000 friendly people.
BeWelcome (often abbreviated as BW) is a hospitality exchange service that is run by a non-profit organization. The website was founded in February 2007. As of September 2015, the organisation has more than 80,000 members in more than 150 countries all around the world, who offer free accommodation and help during travel.
BeWelcome is a free service, but requires registration. It is run by volunteers, and it is organized as a voluntary associationregistered in Rennes, France. Members can contact each other for information about the offered accommodation or to request to stay. The service requires that the exchange be non-commercial. Members can also leave feedback on their experiences.
Servas International is an international, non-governmental, multicultural hospitality association present in 128 countries and run mostly by volunteers. It was founded in 1949 by Bob Luitweiler and his friends as a peace movement. Servas International promotes world-peace by encouraging individual person-to-person contacts.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms, is a loose network of national organizations that facilitate placement of volunteers on organic farms. While there are WWOOF hosts in 99 countries around the world, no central list or organization encompasses all WWOOF hosts. As there is no single international WWOOF membership, all recognised WWOOF country organizations strive to maintain similar standards, and work together to promote the aims of WWOOF.
WWOOF aims to provide volunteers with first-hand experience in organic and ecologically sound growing methods, to help the organic movement; and to let volunteers experience life in a rural setting or a different country. WWOOF volunteers (‘WWOOFers’) generally do not receive financial payment. The host provides food, accommodation, and opportunities to learn, in exchange for assistance with farming or gardening activities.
The concept of hospitality exchange, also known as “accommodation sharing”, “hospitality services” (short “hospex”), and “home stay networks”, “home hospitality” (“hoho”), refers to centrally organized social networks of individuals, generally travelers, who offer or seek accommodation without monetary exchange. These services generally connect users via the internet.
Women Welcome Women World Wide (5W) aims to promote international friendship by encouraging women of different countries to visit one another in their own homes. Any woman may become a member, regardless of nationality, religion or home circumstances. Members range in age from teens to over eighties and from many walks of life.
Travelling with Women Welcome Women World Wide is a safer way. Another woman meeting a member at the airport, for example, is reassuring in a land far from her own. 5W helps ordinary women become more self-confident. Having experienced other countries and cultures from the intimacy of members’ homes, they return to their own with greater understanding and a broader vision.
WarmShowers is an online hospitality exchange organization for touring bicyclists. It has 52,000 active members (data from 2015/02/18). It was been founded as a downloadable spreadsheet in 1993, and became an online organization in 2005. It has members all over the world all over the world, although Europe and North America are best represented.
Zotel provides $40/night lodging worldwide with specific quality standards as well as trust built through chain of connections between hosts and guests. Zotel leverages six degrees of connections to build the chain of connections between hosts and guests. This chain of connections provides an immense amount of trust for everyone – so much that more people are willing to open their doors for hosting at a fixed price of $40/night worldwide while maintaining specific quality standards. It also enables guests to have a trusted travel experience in every corner of the world – even more trusted than unknown hotels run by unknown managers. The reputation among the chain of connections also provides a huge incentive for hosts to exceed the specified quality standards.
Tripping is a global community of travelers that was founded in 2009 and – just weeks after launching – grew to 500+ members from 40 countries. According to the website, Tripping aims to become the safest and best hospitality exchange in the world by offering increased safety and the latest travel tools and technology.
Like other hospitality sites, Tripping is a platform where travelers can meet local people. Travelers can get advice from locals in the Community forums or meet them in real life, such as for a cup of coffee or even a homestay.