23 April 2017

Hosting Couchsurfers - Everything You Need to Know

When travelling over my three year stint I did my fair bit of Couchsurfing and thought of myself as a bit of an expert. The more I couchsurfed, the better I got at it. Not that there are certain tricks to how to do it best but I got so comfortable of just rocking up a stranger's house and knowing how to have a good time and be a good guest. 
The ins and outs of Couchsurfing and doing it successfully all combine tricks of knowing how to write a good request, choosing hosts to fit your personality and how to act when you are surfing. These were all vital in guaranteeing a top notch stay and making sure my host enjoyed having me as a guest and in the end, would write me a great reference. But as I am a a bit of a pro at being a good surfer, I've then become a bit of a snob at hosting and I'm sick of it already...

I moved into my own place for the first time last September with my boyfriend and decided to return my favour to the Couchsurfing community by starting to host travellers. I have a pretty decent profile with a good 20+ references therefore I thought I'd have a good chance of receiving a lot of requests. I wrote a decent paragraph in the 'My Home' section about guests having their own double bedroom, how they're ideally located between the airport and the city centre, and how I provide a breakfast and decent wifi.

As soon as I put my status to ACCEPTING SURFERS I was bombarded with 3-4 requests a day from all matter of people. This got me realising why so many hosts in the past loved my requests but also why so many never bothered to reply. Over half the requests didn't even bother to put my name (or in some cases they wrote the wrong name...) and a lot of requests were very generic, therefore obvious that the surfer hadn't bothered to read my profile. As an experienced Couchsurfer I know it can be time consuming to read about 5-6 peoples profiles and then draft an original request to make someone want to host you, but overall it doesn't take that much effort considering that the host is giving you a free bed for the night. So no wonder it annoyed me when I received shitty requests such as:

"Hey Marta, 
I am traveling to manchester from india for work purpose and very interested in couch surfing as its a way to meet and interact with new and interesting people. 
It will be great will you allow me @ your place for a few days."

Maybe next time get my name right? 

- "Hi how are you Becky ? My name is Donald. I lived in the United States and planned on visiting England."

Lack of detail and clear indication that they didn't read my profile.

"Hi Becky. Jane here. Staying with my friend in Oldham but deciding to take a day trip to Manchester in about an hour. May head to Liverpool tomorrow. Do you have any plans tonight? Any chance I could stay at your place?" 

An hour?! I don't mind last minute requests but more than an hours notice would be nice.

"hey ciao!!! I´m Salvatore from Italy, I will come to manchester for a weekend (18-20 November), only two nights. Are you willing to host me? waiting for your answer! 
grazie :)"

This was a request with no real info about the person, and they had a blank profile.
One surfer wrote all in Spanish, and I don't speak a word of Spanish. One surfer asked to stay for 10 nights. And many other surfers just didn't write a great deal. Overall the requests were shit and I really understood why a lot of hosts have a terrible response rate. However, moaning aside, I did receive a few great requests which were personal, friendly and with people I would get on with, therefore I did host a few guests overall. But then that got tedious...

As I work full time I kinda just want to get home and relax rather than spend an evening 'hosting'. The surfers I did host were friendly but it did seem more effort than I imagined. Certain guests were messy, others didn't bother to bring a gift which I consider a bit rude, as I always brought a gift or cooked for my hosts. Other guests wanted taking out in Manchester, but then when getting there they didn't want to spend a penny... which I understand as a traveller but don't ask to be taken out and expect me to pay. 

A lot of rants, a lot of different experiences, and a lot of Couchsurfing requests. I'm fully for Couchsurfing but I am more understanding of the host community and I will keep reinforcing that surfers should make an effort to read a profile, bring a gift, and respect their host's home. Afterall it is a free bed for the night and in my house a free breakfast too...

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