The name Couchers

The other side of this story is that perhaps names matter less than people think. It could be called “flibbitygib” and as long as people know what it is and what it does, then all good.

I’ll probably never really like “Couchers”, but unless there’s some serious intention to change it, it’s probably a bit of a wasted discussion. Can always dream though…


Well, that’s an interesting take. I’m not saying you’re wrong, but is that really a fundamental part of the org’s belief? Where’d that come from?

One underlying theme in those many ‘I-did-CS-and-I-hated-it’ articles is how the authors felt it was such a grubby/sketchy/flophouse sort of experience that they never wanted to try again. Now, I’ve spent time sleeping in some odd places in my time, from train car floors to bathtubs to basement couches. I’m not a snob, nor do I think anyone is looking for a ‘high class’ experience. (more on that below) But is that really ‘part of the vibe’ you’re going for? “we’re cheap nomads, we have couches, maybe”? If that is what the community is, so be it; I’m just looking for clarification.

The reason I’m so passionate about hospitality orgs (and am in a number of them) is that I actually believe staying with local new friends is THE BEST way to travel, and have had amazing experiences doing that. Further, hosting people has been a very rewarding experience as well. Hospitality exchange is in no way “a low class” experience. I would argue that many, many people and leaders in CS/couchers have claimed, ‘if you’re just looking for a cheap place to stay, go somewhere else’.

I just think that pushing the couch symbolism both ties the org to CS, and freeloaders. Seems to me that with some thinking about the brand name, the idea of openness, sharing culture and hospitality can be maintained while starting a new org with a new, better outlook.


I agree. but a goofy non-name would come WITHOUT the negatives of association with CS and lack of privacy/comfort.

Thanks for the history, and glad you are still here participating in the conversation.

I do want to point out that it seems one can find more than 25 people on this thread alone who don’t like the name… but more importantly, I hope the idea of thinking long term/big picture is part of the leader’s mindset. If the beta went public a year ago, that means we’re entering year 2 or 3? Servas is over 70, WOOOF over 50, even Hospitality Club is over 20 years old. CS ‘lasted’ what, 10? I’d like to think that this org is still in its very beginning stages, and can still make changes and define itself in new ways. That’s my hope anyway.

It’s weird, but besides feeling annoyed that they locked me out of my account with a paywall, I don’t really have that many negative associations with CS. I think in all the 12 or 13 years I was using it, I never lacked privacy. There was a bit of an uncomfortable sofa bed in Philly once, but besides that it was fine. More to the point, it was worth it.


I believe it’s difficult to cover all that can be experienced via Couchers. From discussions on the forum I got a feeling that inclusion is a big deal for members here. By being inclusive we will inevitably have all kinds of hosts, guests and experiences. To have less ‘I-did-CS-and-I-hated-it’ moments people need to be completely transparent and honest about what exactly they offer and expect.

Although I do perceive that Couchers are currently leaning toward the “cheaper” side (main website photo= hikers/backpackers or FB cover photo= backpacker again), we have more diverse representation in our rows and I hope to see it pictured someday.

Going back to the couch imagery- letting a friend/stranger stay on the couch is a very kind gesture. Couch can symbolize friendship, sympathy, family, trust. Couch doesn’t sugar coat anything. You know that couch surfing will be less comfortable experience in comparison to paid services.


I don’t personally have much either really. (I’m an older white male, so, no uncomfortable experiences) But I think there’s 2 main negative perceptions with CS that people generally, and people on this site specifically, have. 1. Sketchy behavior by bad actors who weren’t screened properly and 2. the anti-corporate/for-profit crowd who didn’t want to be a product/pay for sharing their homes/give up data privacy to a corporation.

By using basically the same name, this new org shakes off none of those perceptions. Changing the name would be so easy and quite effective… but I think inertia is a very hard thing to fight.

Good observation, it does make your point. However of course, that could easily just be another example of either a small decision made by a very small group of people or individual who might not have chosen those images (and the name) with a deep philosophical belief… or a long term strategy about marketing and org culture.

Changing my tactic a bit: have you stayed with someone via a connection on Couchers? I haven’t, as I just joined a month ago or so. and in fact, I never even stayed with anyone with CS - I hosted a number of times, and hung out/made friends with someone while traveling once. Most of my hosting and traveling experience is from another org. What was your Coucher experience like? was it sleeping on a couch?

I sure can answer, but it’s one drop in the ocean of Couchers.
I have not stayed with anyone on Couchers. I have hosted on Couchers. I have joined some Couchers in-person events we’ve had in my city. Currently I offer a private room with a folding bed or mattresses depending on surfers’ preferences. In the past (on CS) I offered couches or mattresses in the living room and sometimes my own bedroom (while I took the couch). So far the people I got the chance to interact with in person were all ex CouchSurfers and my experiences with them were similar to what I would experience on CouchSurfing. People are similar. What changed is the platform.

1 Like

To me it feels like you’re a bit mixing up two perspectives: Not finding our marketing approach convincing. And suggesting there’s no long term strategy for marketing.

I’m not on the marketing team, but I believe there’s a couple foundational decisions for this project in place:

  • we want to evoke continuity with the couchsurfing experience. The great experiences we all had on exactly that platform and we want to continue having and enabling others to have.
  • So we focus our distinction on getting the things right where couchsurfing the company failed and corrupted the platform:
    • building with and for community and supporting community builders
    • empowering users to take better care of the platform and themselves, so we don’t have a toxic hook-up culture
    • generally offering a transparent and open platform, technically and legally, that will not financially profit a small group while exploiting the dedication of many

That’s why I think the name decision is well aligned with our general strategy. And concerns for comfort are not so central to our messaging right now.


I’d actually doubt that. We had passionate opinions about the name at the time as well. But in the end, only 3 volunteers voted against Couchers. While as many who didn’t vote probably didn’t have a strong opinion about it in the first place.

In any case, if it’s fun we could have a small follow-up poll in this topic? :partying_face:

"1 year on, how do you feel about the Couchers name and brand?"
  • Oh, I love it!!
  • Yeah, I can live with it.
  • Seriously, it could be so much better!

0 voters

i don’t know if you read it before it was removed/hidden, but yesterday i commented approving of your analyze.
Then I got a:
“your post was hidden. Your post was flagged as inappropriate: the community feels it is offensive, abusive, or a violation of our community guidelines.This post was hidden due to flags from the community, so please consider how you might revise your post to reflect their feedback.”

there was no explanation, what was “inappropriate”. Made me laugh because this goes online elsewhere.

a brief summary: I linked to online documents from 1996 and 1997, about the meaning of “couchsurfing” (in one or two words). The etymology of the word is hard to date accurately, without exploring libraries, I put an excerpt from Google books of a novel published in 1989, where “couch surfing” is used. Otherwise comprehensive etymological work will require then to spend time in libraries.

anyway, as you correctly stress it, the word/expression refers to transient semi-homelessness or freeloading.

I reminded that the current company “Couchsurfing International Inc.” has since the beginning been marketing the freeloading aspect, already in the choice of the name.
Other hospexes, and the old pre-internet snail mail Servas, are all be trying to stress the in name and symbolism the hospitality factor.

So I was just illustrating in more details all these FACTS, as well a reminding that “couch” doesn’t echo anything to people who know very little english, because the furniture called couch in english is called sofa or divan across most languages.

I also reminded of what I pointed out earlier (last year???): in french they will experience quite a lot of jokes because “coucher” becomes “coucheur” with means cheater (from “couche”=“bed”, et de là la dérivation, coucher dans un autre lit que le légitime).

Then i commented about the main page of the site

It is obvious that the “team” doesn’t know the difference between an idea/concept, in this case hospex/hospitality and particular implementations or they know but their use of “coucher” is obviously only in order to catch the people of CS.


so this was a summary of my deleted post. Don’t know what they consider “inappropriate” and if forums are not for debating and pointing also to glitches, non-senses and flaws, well…

I know not everyone feels that way. My first exposure to the term couchsurfing was through the site. And most of us who have used CS over the years attribute it to mean a lot more than just staying on couches or freeloading. In fact, I think that’s an outdated interpretation of the term. Like you said, your sources are from the late 90s. :slight_smile:

May I ask why you put team in quotes here? There have been hundreds of people working on this project, and yet more offering ideas on the forum (which the team watches closely). Your post was hidden because a moderator found the tone of your post a bit toxic. It’s fine to discuss ideas but when you have a sarcastic and/or biting approach it creates a negative vibe, especially for newcomers. Thanks for reposting your comment, as I think your second reply is a bit more moderate. If you want clearer reasoning for what could be considered inappropriate in your post, I suggest you PM @moderators.


Antonio, I did see the first message, and this one. I agree with your fundamental point, that the name is weird. It seems though, that others feel different, and maybe even want some of the associations that you and I find odd. That’s how it is with groups.


This post was a very good analysis! I do not know French, but the author’s English is superb and much gratitude here for its elucidation of the origins of the word couch and its current meaning and usage in French. Maybe there should be a better name? Coucher does not have any meaning in English. The author does not suggest that the name be changed in view of its French usage, but it probably should. Maybe it should emphasize the surfing aspect. It does not even need an English name.

This strong disapproval of the couch symbol, rejection of anything CS and of so-called “freeloading” sounds like the consensus on BeWecome’s forums. Why do all projects have to be the same? Of course the founders here have a vision and are sticking to it… it seems normal to me.

Also about freeloading, it is really the least of the problems that CS had, the main problem being all the safety incidents that were pushed under the rug. Freeloading really is a non-issue in comparison.


Personally I like the word Couchers , as a word only! Simple and easy to pronounce. However my concern is CS’s bad reputation. There is a bad example like CS, so what would be the motivation of copying their name, symbol and even color code? I guess the motivation is, remembering CS’s old good shiny days and expecting people to remember those days too. But who could proof that Casey is still not behind of this organization? There are plenty of examples available they sell their start-up and then go make something similar to continue making money based on your know-how. I’m not saying that this is the case but wouldn’t be difficult to explain this to every one? And what is our selling motto here? We are Couchers, we are like CS but better. Is that it? If it is too late for sure I won’t request to change the name but if there is still a possibility maybe a market analyst could confirm if I worry for nothing and this is bull s.hit :slight_smile: or they could confirm this is an existing risk on the table with this name Couchers.

Despite all the safety issues, despite the greed and lies of the original founders, despite gross mismanagement by the current owners, I think the community and the name still have a good reputation, thanks to all the memories and friends we made along the way :smiling_face:

  • HospEx
  • InterTravel
  • TravelConnect
  • WorldCitizens
  • CovidIsOver :smile:

Just closed our small poll on the name one year in. We had 22 voters in all and the result seems to, well, at least signal peace on the name :smile:


1 Like