An honest and sincere question: Is hospitality really hospitality, when something expected in exchange?

I want to share this discussion that took place on Reddit:

And specifically this my point, which is incredibly important for the future of Couchers in my view:

«I guess it all comes down to the absense of clear description of values of exchange. It shouldn’t be left to cultural differences and chance, it should be described clearly "this is how we do it", the type of exchange that the platform represents should be clearly formulated - then there’ll be no need for misunderstanding, when expectations are clearly stated by the platform itself.

Or if there are multiple types of expectations, there should be compulsory profile sections to fill, in which you choose among them, and thus people can find their “matches” so to speak.

The absense of clarity of the philosophy of the platform, the ambiguity - is what makes multiple interpretations possible, and thus leads to conflicts and clashes in views, expectations, etc. So there should be very unambigous philosophy described, something like a manifesto of sorts, clearly point by point describing every aspect of interaction between users of the platform.»

I would say yes.
It is still hospitality even when something expected in exchange.
If there is no exchange at all then you are hosting… freeloaders.

I do understand that majority of people are using hospitality exchange platforms to save money in the first place so I would never insisted on some specific exchange that needs to be done that involves money like buying gifts or paying for the other person. But there are numerous ways how to give back to your host that don’t cost any money- do the dishes, help clean the place before you leave, teach your host some new skill, give them some kind of a fun experience, share something with them. They are your hosts after all- saving you money on accommodation. Sometimes on restaurants, too. They pay for your water/gas/electric usage. They clean after you. They sometimes give you rides. But most importantly they give you their free time and make sure you have a good time. It’s rude to just take take take and never give anything back in return. Not everybody understands how much effort goes into hosting so I am fine if hosts specify if there is something what you can do for them.

If host expects you to share your favorite recipe with them or wants you to teach them language, how to play the guitar, how to code, ask you to bring a postcard from your city or two beers on your way I see absolutely nothing wrong with it. That’s probably the least you can do and I would still consider this to be hospitality.


In my view, there’s two central ideas guiding exchange on Couchers:

  • It’s a free and non-profit platform. Exchange of money is not a part of using the service.
  • It’s not a dating app.

I think these are the points that should indeed be communicated very clearly and without leaving room for ambiguity. Transgressions in these directions should also be sanctioned, because these limits are important to build and maintain an open and safe platform. But beyond that, I wouldn’t see the need to define what users are supposed to expect or what hospitality really is.

If there’s different expectations because of cultural differences, I feel that realizing and navigating these differences is really part of getting to know the world. At least me, I wouldn’t want to travel to find that people have similar views and expectations wherever I stay.

On the other hand, when users have specific personal expectations, they have their profiles to communicate those. If you’d feel more comfortable with a manifesto @azat11, why not put it up on your profile or home section?

Where I think it could be helpful to have more general guidance or limitations could be for new users. Like an opt-in new-user-mode? That will only show users with a certain standing. And probably don’t offer features like public trip posting? Have some nudges or tips about what kind of behavior we believe is most likely to lead to great experiences?


I think hospitality is not expecting something in return. I think the purpose of helping other people and giving kindness is to put that into the world, in the hope it will spread further when this person who now feels gratitude and connectedness will be inspired to pass on this kindness to someone else. And then you have a culture of people helping other people without expectations of return :slight_smile: other than the hope that you have made the world a bit better and less individualistic than much of the world has become today :)))))))

  • in which case you will get return but not definitely and maybe not directly :stuck_out_tongue:

Have you read the discussion on Reddit?

I feel the opposite - clear description of what the exchange is is absolutely necessary, and on the platform level. Like “Hospitality for company, communion and cultural exchange”. It should be stated what the exchange is, not what it’s not. Everyone having their own idea of exchange creates confusion. Or as I stated there should be a list of types of exchange and each user should choose what they are interested in, and this will make matching people with similar expectations easy. Expectations should be made transparent, because they are present in 95% or more cases. Transparency should be imperative, it should be the ultimate value, and not the societal politeness and hypocrisy that there are no expectations, when in fact there are expectations inabsolute majority cases. Although I understand that this is unlikely to happen.

That is why I am inclined to create my own closed community for the hospitality sharing, where there are truly no expectations.

This is very close to what I am feeling, but really I don’t care if it will spread – sharing in itself is enough, just the joy of giving is enough. Kindness is it’s own reward, and those who have not experienced this will always be expecting something, and nothing from without truly satisfies, only from within that we are fulfilled.


Least I can do is nothing. By definition. It is a stupid expression.

Just as I mentioned in the reply above – those who have not felt the fulfillment that giving brings will always expect, because they have not known the true joy of love, which is giving without leaving anything for yourself.

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Beautiful thing about hospitality exchange is the fact that there are a lot of people with different characters, values and opinions. Surfers who believe in the law of reciprocity will have no issues to stay with hosts that would like to get something in exchange for hosting. Surfers who the least they can do is nothing will have no issues with staying with altruistic hosts. Just choose your companion carefully and everybody will have a good time. That’s the goal.


If a guest wants to know what to expect about my hospitality, among other things: read my profile.
It was always like this and it will stay that way.