Frequently asked questions
Using the site (hosting and being hosted)
- How can I contact another member?
To contact another member, go to their profile and click on the "Send message" link in the menu below the profile picture. The member will receive your message in their BeWelcome mailbox, but all messages will also be sent to their e-mail address. If your message is a hosting request, you should use the "Request stay" link from the same menu (that will also let you send a message, but with additional information about stay dates and number of travellers).
- How do I find a host?
There are basically 2 ways of finding a host:
- you can run a search by location to find all members in a given place, and send hosting requests to the ones you'd like to stay with;
- or you can post in a local group or post a public trip and wait for a local member to invite you.
Both methods have their advantages and drawbacks. If you send hosting requests, you will choose yourself which members you contact. But you may receive many negative answers from people who aren't available on the requested dates (or even no answer at all). If you post a public trip, you will only be contacted by people willing to host you. But you may receive offers from people you don't feel like staying with, and have to decline them.
- How does the host search work?
You can find members willing to host using the “search by location” feature from the “find members” button in the main menu.
Type the first letters of your destination in the text field, select the right place from the drop-down list, and click on “find members” to see all members close to the selected place. There is an option to display them on the map or not.
The default search results only show members with a filled profile and who are able to host. But if you toggle the “search options” button, you will have a detailed set of options enabling you to refine the search: search by gender, by language spoken, by number of guests accepted, select a radius around the target location… The results will show all members matching the search criteria, with a summary of their profile. Take your time to review the profiles and read the information given there carefully. Then send a hosting request to those members you would like to stay with. It is advised to send requests to several members, especially if it’s not very long in advance, as you can’t expect a 100% reply rate.
- How do I write a good request or invitation?
Writing a good request is important, as it is the first contact you will have with a potential host. This request and your profile are the only information a host will have about you when deciding whether to host you or not. You will increase your chances of being hosted if you write each potential host a personal request, rather than sending the same message to everybody.
The request should briefly explain why you chose to contact this specific host. For instance, why were you interested in the profile, do you have any common interests? You could also explain why you are coming to that location and what you expect to do while you are there, so your host knows how much time the host will have with you. For example, are you interested in doing some activities with your host (city tour, bike tour, party…)? Or do you already have your own activities planned and you’ll just be there in the evening? Then, of course, giving some practical details is important: how many guests and how long you’d like to stay, but possibly also other information like your means of transportation and schedule (especially if you have to arrive or leave very late or early). Finally, giving your real name, if it’s not displayed on BeWelcome, is usually a good idea.
The request only serves as a first contact, it’s usually followed by other messages to set all the details of hosting. Even after sending a request, you are always free to decline a hosting offer (if your circumstances change, or you don’t like the host's answer, or because you received several positive answers). It is common (and advised) to send several requests at the same time to increase your chances of finding a host, so people won’t get offended if you decline their offer after sending them a request. However, if you do have to cancel a request, always make sure to tell the host as soon as you can.
- What are public trips?
Public trips are a way for travellers to inform members in a given location that they’re going to come there, and that they’re looking for a host and/or wishing to meet up. All members around the trip’s destination (within the radius chosen by the traveller) will see the trip’s details (dates, location and description) on their “Visitors” page. Local members can then check the travellers’ profiles, and take contact with them if they want to propose hosting or a meet-up.
As a traveller, you have better chances of being contacted about a public trip if you publish it long enough in advance – at least a few days!
- How can I create a public trip?
Go to the "My Trips" page and select the "Create" tab. You can then fill in all the information related to your trip that will be shown to local members.
If you plan to visit several places during your trip, you can either create one trip with multiple legs or several different trips.
- How long can I stay with my host?
- This depends on the host. Normally this will be arranged before your visit, so it is important to give your preferred dates, and whether these are flexible, when making your request. Some members specify the maximum length of stay of their guests on their profiles. You should ask about anything not made clear in the profile. As common courtesy, we ask you to respect the host's plans and restrictions and not to impose yourself on your host longer than they would like.
- I want to host people: how can I contact travellers?
You basically have nothing to do: just wait until a traveller contacts you to ask being hosted at your place. You’ll have more chances of hosting people if you fill your profile (especially the parts about you and the accommodation you can offer) and if you log in to BeWelcome from time to time (that will show people that you’re still active).
You can also look for travellers who have posted a public trip in your area. On the “Visitors” page you will see all travellers who posted a public trip in your area. You can check their profile and trip details and, if you wish to host or meet one of them, send them an invitation or message through the dedicated buttons on the trip summary page.
- Is there a minimum duration I should host for?
- Hosting arrangements are up to guests and hosts to decide. Usually guests do not stay more than a few days with their hosts. As a host, it is important to communicate exactly how long you are willing to offer your hospitality. You can specify this in your profile or treat each guest individually. Please note that nobody is obliged to offer anything, it is important that hosts feel comfortable with whatever arrangement they offer.
- Can more than one guest stay with the same host?
This all depends on the host. Some members specify the maximum number of guests they are willing or able to host on their profiles. You should contact the member directly about anything not made clear in their profile. Anyway, to avoid any inconvenience, you should always tell your host clearly how many people will be coming.
If you are travelling as a family, you can join the “Families” group to get some advice or to find hosts through this group. However, many people will be willing to host families even if they are not members of the group. So, if you find someone who is willing to host several people but has not mentioned anything about families on their profile, just contact the member directly to discuss the possibility of visiting them with your family.
- Can I host at more than one address?
At the moment you can only be listed with one address. You could add your second address to your profile summary and thus inform people about it. Please be aware, however, that your second address will not appear in the member location search. In the long run we hope to be able to provide a better solution.
- I need a last minute host (for today or tomorrow). What can I do?
There is no dedicated feature for last-minute hosting, so all you can do is use the regular host search channels. Use all of them to increase your chances! Last-minute hosting is often more difficult to find. Some members may have included their phone number or other contacts in their profiles, and you could use these to contact them. However, please understand if some members do not feel comfortable with hosting somebody on very short notice.
You can also check if a local group exists in the place where you need a host. Go to the "groups” page and search by place name (try in English and in the local language) to find if there is a group. Some places even have a "last minute hosting" group, though that is still not a guarantee of finding a host! If you do find a local group, you can join the group and post a message there.
- I need a host for a month or longer, can BeWelcome help?
- Feel free to contact other members to make such a request. It is up to your potential host whether or not they feel one month is too long. However, be aware that such requests are not the common use of BeWelcome, so it may be difficult to find a host. If you wish to stay in one place for a month using BeWelcome, you may need to consider finding 4 hosts for a week rather than 1 host for a month. If a local group exists in the place where you need hosting, posting a message there (long enough in advance) may also be a good idea.
- A member arranged to stay with me but never turned up. What should I do?
It is, of course, common courtesy to let your host know if you change plans and cannot stay with them. Members who do not show up should be aware that they inconvenience the host as well as other members who may have been turned down in their favour. BeWelcome will not, however, get directly involved because this kind of information is best shared through the comments system.
In a case like this, the host should try to contact this member to ask for an explanation, allowing a little time to answer. If there is no answer, or an unsatisfactory explanation, the host should post a comment on this member's profile, to warn other members. You can choose to post a neutral or negative comment, depending on your feeling about the explanation given. Anyway, please remain factual about what happened (you can check our guidelines about comments).
- What happens once a hosting is over?
After a hosting experience, either as a host or a guest, it is recommended to write a short comment to be displayed on the member’s profile (see the guidelines about comments). To write a comment, go to the other member's profile and choose "Add comment" in the menu.
These comments will help other members when they are deciding whether to stay with someone or to host them. Members with positive comments on their profile are more likely to receive hosting requests/offers.