A hospitality service, also known as "accommodation sharing", "hospitality exchange" (short "hospex"), "home stay network", or "home hospitality network" ("hoho"), is a centrally organized social networking service of travelers who offer or seek homestays (lodging in a home) either gratis or for money. Hospitality services generally connect users via the internet and are examples of collaborative consumption and sharing. In cases where lodging is offered gratis, they are examples of a barter economy or gift economy. A hospitality service may collect commissions on each homestay, charge a membership fee, or be completely free.
In 1949, Bob Luitweiler founded Servas International, the first hospitality service, as a volunteer-run international nonprofit organization advocating interracial and international peace.
In 1953, several European teachers who wanted to travel internationally during their summer breaks founded Intervac International, a home exchange network.
In 1965, John Wilcock set up the Traveler's Directory as a listing of his friends willing to host each other when traveling. In 1988, Joy Lily rescued the organization from imminent shutdown, forming Hospitality Exchange.
In 1966, psychologist Rubén Feldman González created Programo Pasporto, a hospitality service for Esperanto speakers in Argentina. In 1974, with the help of Jeanne-Marie Cash, it became Pasporta Servo and published its first membership directory, which listed 40 hosts.
In 1971, Sue Coppard founded WWOOF ("Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms"), a network in which food, lodging, and education is provided to guests in exchange for housekeeping and farmworker services.
In 1977, Presbyterian minister Wayne Smith and U.S. President Jimmy Carter established Friendship Force International, with the mission of improving intercultural relations, cultural diplomacy, friendship, and intercultural competence via organized trips involving homestays.
In 1992, Hospex.org became the first internet-only hospitality service; it later was folded into Hospitality Club, created in 2000 by Veit Kühne.
In 2004, Casey Fenton founded CouchSurfing, the largest hospitality service in which accommodation is offered gratis.
In 2008, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia founded Airbnb after a popular conference made it hard to find accommodation. Hosts receive monetary payment from guests, paid online in advance, and Airbnb receives commissions from each transaction.
Notable hospitality networks
- 9flats – A network offering homestays primarily in Europe. Guests must pay in advance via credit card.
- Airbnb – The largest hospitality service, it has over 100 million users and over 3 million lodging listings. Guests must pay in advance via credit card and Airbnb receives commissions from each transaction.
- BeWelcome – A hospitality service with an open source community with approximately 100,000 members in 200 countries. The network is organized as a nonprofit organisation with democratic structures.
- CouchSurfing – With 15 million members in more than 200 countries, it is the largest hospitality service where lodging is offered gratis.
- Friendship Force International – A hospitality service with 16,000 members. Members join a 2-week organized "journey", costing approximately US$1000.
- Gloveler - A hospitality service operating in Germany in which members pay for lodging.
- GuestToGuest - A service that connects people who want to participate in home exchanges.
- Hospitality Club – One of the first internet-based hospitality services; lodging is provided gratis.
- Intervac International - The first home exchange network.
- Mennonite Your Way – A hospitality service with over 1,600 hosts, mostly Mennonites and Schwarzenau Brethren, in more than 69 countries. Guests pay a nominal flat fee to the host.
- Pasporta Servo – A hospitality service for Esperanto speakers, where lodging is provided gratis.
- Servas International – With a history dating back to 1949, it is focused on human rights and world peace.
- ThirdHome – A worldwide luxury second home exchange service of holiday cottages.
- Tripping.com – An online review aggregator that pulls listings from several hospitality services.
- Warmshowers - A hospitality service with 100,000 members that travel by bicycle.
- Wimdu – A hospitality service focused on renting homes for vacation purposes.
- Workaway – A hospitality service with 25,000 hosts in which food, lodging, and education is provided to guests in exchange for housekeeping and farmworker services.
- WWOOF ("Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms") – a network in which food, lodging, and education is provided to guests in exchange for housekeeping and farmworker services.