Some peope told me that they were having extreme difficulty in finding a couch. I understand why. Most of the times: people are just sending short, impersonal copy-paste messages.That is not what you would like to get when you are the potential host, right? I woudn´t.
Remember: to be able to surf a couch – well be a guest for free – you need to convince your potential host that it will be revarding to host you! That you have some things in common and that the host will be spending a good time while having you over.
Here is my advice:
AVOID copy paste!
Avoid sending the same little 3-line request to multiple people form a city. You will not be taken seriously. These people probably even know eachother from meetings in the city (if its an active community) and they will even talk about you. Imagine them to talk about you at the next meeting: „Hey I got another lame request yesterday. It went like this: ...“ „Oh, did you get that one too. Yes it was pretty lame“. Do you really want the community to talk about you like that?
Take some time to find the perfect person you would like to surf with and spend some time with. Pick somebody you think you will get along with well. That usually takes me ages, I look through so many profiles and spend about 2 hours if not more - only to chose somebody.
Write a personal request
By saying "personal" I don`t mean: write a personal message. I mean the the content needs to be highly personal, explicitly personal. You must show the reader that you have read the profile. You must place some hints about what the potential host wrote about himself/herself in the profile.
-> Read the profile thoroughly. All the info, pictures AND references he/she got AND gave others. Does that sound like work? All those who are too lazy for that: go to www.hostels.com
Are you with me? Good! Trust me, if you spend some time on writing good requests, you will never have so much trouble again. And – more importantly for you: you want to know with whom you are staying. Do you want to stay with just anybody? Then please go to the beginning of the article. All the others: continue reading and learn:
I will give you an explicit example:
Person X likes cats and works as a nurse. Her hobbies are sailing (you are a sailing nerd) and reading (you both enjoy the same writers). Easy one! The request should go something like that. Italics is the actual text and capital letters are guidance:
I see you are fond of sailing just like me. I have started in 1998 and ever since went sailing whenever i could. Do you own a boat yourself? INCLUDE A FUNNY SAILING STORY HERE
We both enjoy NAME OF WRITER very much. I have read all his books and I especially like NAME OF NOVEL which also reminds me of your philosophy. CONTINUE EXPANDING THE PHOLOSOPHY THOUGHT
WRITE SOMETHING NICE ABOUT THE HOSTS JOB. ANY CONNECTION THAT YOU CAN THINK OF AS LONG AS IT IS POSITIVE.
I hope I can surf your couch and CATS NAME wont mind to share with me. I love cats myself and i had cats for all my life. Sure that the cat will love me cuddling her all day long.
CONTINUE ADDING MORE PERSONAL INFORMATIOIN, INCLUDE A HINT FROM A REFERENCE.
I think you and me have alot in common and it would be great to get to know you. I am arriving on DATE, TIME and will be staying in NAME OF TOWN for 3 days. It would be great to surf your couch.
If you write like this: guaranteed you will get a reaction. Mostly people say yes to my requests. I would say in 80% of the cases. Sometimes I get a no, which is fine too, but most people reply pretty quickly.
- State the name: that is an absolute must. Read some references to find out what the first name really is. Some peoples user names do not match the real names.
- Do NOT send out 10 couchrequest at the same time: If you write a good request, it is not necessary. Write 1 good request and then wait for 2 days. If there is no answer, write another one and wait for 2 days and so on. Sadly, you could come across people who do not answer. Just accept it and go to the next person you would really like to meet and write your next couchrequest.
- ALWAYS reply if you got an answer. Inform if you don`t need the couch anymore or if your plans change. Better to write one message too much than not enough! (Even though you sent a text message)
- AVOID spamming the potential host about your life history (you can write that in your profile), trip plans, what you will do in TOWN XY or how to contact you on Facebook or by email. It´s not going to happen. They will reply here, that is what the site is for.
- AVOID telling your host that he/sholuld take a look at your FB, XING, Linkedin, HC.. whatever-other-waste-your-time-site profile for gathering information about you. It´s not going to happen... Just write about you in the CS profile. Use the link to your homepage/blog.
- Note: In places like London, Paris, Dublin, Vienna or Tromsö (LOL its acually true, Tromsö is a cosmopolitan city) you will encounter more difficulty in finding a couch. Why? It is because these people get 5-10 requests a day usually and are completely snowed over by requests. Don`t hate them for that, it`s not your fault, there is just alot of competition. And for you it means: you must write an even BETTER request.
Now read about how to be a good guest! Yes, more work to come!