11 JANUARY 2006
Hospitality Club Welcomes 100,000th Member
Dresden, Germany -- The Hospitality Club is an online organisation dedicated to putting travellers in contact with locals offering to host them for free. On 11 January 2006, five years after its creation by German student Veit Kuehne, it welcomed its 100,000th member in over 200 countries. The Club website is at www.HospitalityClub.org.
Hospitality Club was the first online organisation to offer on a major scale the possibility for travellers to find and contact locals open to cultural exchange. Hosts may offer a free roof to visitors, or simply give them a tour of their city or share a meal with them. Back home, one may in turn opt to open their door to other travellers.
The whole system is entirely free. The safe and efficient operation of the 30+ languages website and its database, bulletin board, and chatroom depends on the work of hundreds of volunteers from around the world.
How It Works
Anybody can join as long as they provide their real name and mailing address, though this information can be hidden from other members. New members will be invited to fill their profile with information about themselves and their preferences. Visitors will use those profiles to select whom to contact in a city that could count hundreds of potential hosts.
The prospective guest sends his first message through the website, a measure taken to avoid members receiving spam in their email account. They must provide their full name and passport number and should provide information about their trip.
Upon receiving this message, a prospective host will visit their guest's profile and read feedback provided by other members that met them in the past. With all this information they will decide whether they are able and willing to host the member.
The Hospitality Club is a non-profit, non-commercial project. It was founded on the belief that bringing people together and fostering international friendships will increase intercultural understanding and strengthen peace.
'One day, everyone will have the opportunity to visit any country knowing that someone will be waiting to receive them with open arms,' says Kuehne. 'People will travel in a different way, meet each other and build intercultural understanding through personal contact.
'There will be many members in places like Israel and Palestine, Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Chechnya, Rwanda, or Timor who will exchange hospitality with each other, and in small steps the Hospitality Club will have helped making peace a lasting vision for our wonderful planet,' he adds.
The Hospitality Club succeeded to Hospex, a 1991 attempt at using the Internet to add dynamism to the concept created by Servas after World War II. The Club succeeded in making hospitality exchange simple and free, and in making it accessible to the average traveller by introducing strong security features ranging from spam protection to passport control and a sophisticated feedback system.
It took from late 2000 until the beginning of 2004 for the network to grow to 10,000 members, but the growth has since then been exponential. Less than two years later, the Club has already passed the 100,000 members milestone. Kuehne now is aiming at nothing less than a million members soon. At the current rate of growth, this once incredible dream would come true in less than two years.