The Hospitality Club
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About us - The Hospitality Club Story

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 Advantages
- free accommodation worldwide
- meet friendly people
- no cost at all
- intercultural understanding
- no obligations
- safety features
- non-commercial
...come onboard!

 Statistics
number of Hospitality Club members
This is the story of the Hospitality Club and the people behind it - how we founded it, how it has developed and what the future might bring. We wrote this as extensive as possible so you get a good picture of our background and our motivation.

History of Hospitality Exchange
The idea of hospitality exchange has been around for a long time. After the Second World War, Bob Luitweiler founded Servas as a peace organization. He hoped to foster intercultural understanding and to build peace through a world wide network of open doors. In the following decades, other people founded similar organizations, and a lot of special interest groups developed - hospitality exchange networks for bikers, for women, for hitchhikers , for Esperanto speakers. Veit Kühne founded a network for members of the largest student exchange organization AFS in 1997, based on the model of volunteer country coordinators that had been used by Mensa's hospitality network SIGHT. All those networks had to battle similar problems: printing host lists, collecting member fees, spreading the idea.

The Internet
Then came the internet. The pioneer of using this new technology was Hospex, a network based in Poland (which is not running anymore). Other networks experimented with the net, by summer 2000 the best developed database was the one of the hitchhiking community the Hitchhikers Home Base (not running anymore either). But there was no global and professional solution.

The Idea
Veit (22 years old then) was supposed to work on a research paper for his studies in Koblenz, Germany. After a long night surfing the net in the university computer labs, he went home on July 11, 2000. Smoking an Indonesian clove cigarette on his bed at 6 o'clock in the morning it hit him - the world was ready for a free, safe, volunteer-based hospitality exchange network that would take full advantage of the internet. The next days were filled with thoughts, planning, emails and talks. His four younger siblings Kjell , Kay , Constanze and Till (who have all been AFS exchange students as well and are involved in this peacebuilding organization) and friends were excited about the idea and promised support.

The First Website
We analyzed all other hospitality exchange networks and tried to base the new organization on their best practices. We also integrated some absolutely new ideas into the concept, most importantly passport checks, feedback and comment mechanisms and spam protection through hiding the email addresses. A couple of weeks later, Kay stopped by in Koblenz to help with the first layout of the site. Then Kjell came to Koblenz as well to help with the building of the pages, finalizing all ideas. Together they spent many long and fun nights in the computer labs listening to loud music, eating pizza and working on the site. In the end, the first version of the Hospitality Club was born, and a few minutes after it was online the first people from around the world signed up.

The Database
The website was operational, but very labour intensive. It took more than five minutes to accept one new member, and forwarding messages between members was a real pain. The Hospitality Club needed a database. Still, in the first year, 750 people signed up for the club, and in the second year another 600. In early summer of 2002 Claudio Pacchiega from Italy started the real work on a database solution for the Hospitality Club, basing it on the processes designed by Veit and enhancing it with some very cool new ideas to make the system even safer and more user-friendly. Finally, in July 2002 the database-driven site of the Hospitality Club went live. At the same time, Veit completed his university studies and started a project that still lasts: hitchhiking around the world, he is trying to fascinate one million people with the idea of hospitality exchange. Since then, the club has seen exponential growth, with lots of media around the world reporting about it and thousands of people joining.

Important Points about the HC
The Hospitality Club is a non-commercial project. We founded it, because we truly believe in the idea that bringing people together and fostering international friendships will increase intercultural understanding and strengthen peace . We do not want to make a profit with the site. To keep it free and working well, the biggest challenge is to motivate other people who share our vision to help with the club. That's why it is set up as a volunteer organization where anyone can contribute. At the same time, the club is a long term project for us that is going to be a big part of our life for many years to come. We try to run it as professionally, as safely, as intelligently and as friendly as possible. We take full advantage of technology where it makes sense, but always focus on our main mission: enabling face-to-face meetings between human beings.

The Future
The points above give us confidence that the Hospitality Club is a project to last. We are determined to make hospitality exchange a mainstream travel activity. It just makes sense - it is a fun, ecological , economical and socially beneficial way of traveling. We will form partnerships and cooperations with many other organizations and people around the globe. And we will always keep improving the site and the strategy of the club, based on the feedback of our members. In just a few years, you won't think twice where you can come to look for new people to meet when you travel or when you are at home: our world wide web of friendly people.

Our Dream
One day everyone can go to a different country knowing that someone will receive him/her with open arms. 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, Bosnia , Chechnya and Russia , Ruanda and East Timor who exchange hospitality with each other and in small steps the Hospitality Club will help to make peace a lasting vision for our wonderful planet. Help us reach our dream - we would love to have you onboard !



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All Countries
Afghanistan . Albania . Algeria . American Samoa . Andorra . Angola . Anguilla . Antigua and Barbuda . Argentina . Armenia . Aruba . Australia . Austria . Azerbaijan . Bahamas . Bahrain . Bangladesh . Barbados . Belarus . Belgium . Belize . Benin . Bermuda . Bhutan . Bolivia . Bosnia and Herzegovina . Brazil . Bulgaria . Burkina Faso . Burundi . Cambodia . Cameroon . Canada . Cape Verde . Cayman Islands . Chile . China . Colombia . Congo . Congo, DR . Costa Rica . Côte d`Ivoire . Croatia . Cuba . Cyprus . Czech Republic . Denmark . Dominican Republic . Ecuador . Egypt . El Salvador . Estonia . Ethiopia . Fiji . Finland . France . French Guiana . French Polynesia . Gabon . Gambia . Georgia . Germany . Ghana . Greece . Greenland . Grenada . Guadeloupe . Guam . Guatemala . Guyana . Haiti . Honduras . Hungary . Iceland . India . Indonesia . Iran . Iraq . Ireland . Isle of Man . Israel . Italy . Jamaica . Japan . Jersey . Jordan . Kazakhstan . Kenya . Kuwait . Kyrgyzstan . Laos . Latvia . Lebanon . Lesotho . Libya . Liechtenstein . Lithuania . Luxembourg . Macao . Macedonia . Madagascar . Malaysia . Maldives . Mali . Malta . Martinique . Mauritania . Mauritius . Mexico . Moldova . Monaco . Mongolia . Morocco . Mozambique . Namibia . Nepal . Netherlands . New Caledonia . New Zealand . Nicaragua . Nigeria . Northern Mariana Islands . Norway . Oman . Pakistan . Palau . Palestine . Panama . Papua New Guinea . Paraguay . Peru . Philippines . Poland . Portugal . Puerto Rico . Qatar . Réunion . Romania . Russian Federation . Rwanda . Saint Kitts and Nevis . Saint Lucia . Samoa . Sao Tome and Principe . Saudi Arabia . Senegal . Serbia and Montenegro . Seychelles . Sierra Leone . Singapore . Slovakia . Slovenia . Somalia . South Africa . South Korea . Spain . Sri Lanka . Sudan . Sweden . Switzerland . Syria . Taiwan . Tajikistan . Tanzania . Thailand . Togo . Trinidad and Tobago . Tunisia . Turkey . Turkmenistan . Turks and Caicos Islands . Uganda . Ukraine . United Arab Emirates . United Kingdom . United States of America . Uruguay . Uzbekistan . Vanuatu . Venezuela . Viet Nam . Yemen . Zambia . Zimbabwe .
  People
Veit Kühne
- founder and driving force behind the club
- born 1978 in Leipzig, East Germany
- hospitality exchange enthusiast
- long time AFS volunteer (exchange year in North Carolina, USA)
- avid hitchhiker and traveler
- studied Business Administration in Germany, USA and Belgium
- now spreading the idea on a journey around the world, trying to fascinate one million people with it
- personal website:
www.veit.net

Kjell
- co-founder and Veit's brother
- involved in all details of the club
- born 1979 in Radebeul, East Germany
- ecology activist
- long time AFS volunteer (exchange year on Borneo, Indonesia)
- language genius (fluent in 12)
- studying psychology and ethnology in Mainz

Pierre-Charles Marais
- super-host in his small appartment
- super-volunteer involved in all tasks
- born in 1983 in Normandie, France
- passionate about architecture
- Zellidja travel scholarships guru
- personal website:
pietshah.free.fr

Jean-Yves Hegron
- programmer's coordinator for the HC
- born 1964 in Nantes, France
- enthusiastic about intercultural exchange
- father of three children
- working during the day as a IT project manager

Gerrit Otte
- super-volunteer involved in all tasks
- born 1977 in Georgsmarienhtte, Northern Germany
- Physicist and Computer Scientist
- personal website:
www.gerritotte.de

Volunteers
Hundreds of people are actively helping where they can - as local volunteers or with specialized tasks. We would love to have you onboard as well - visit the Help us and Detailed Volunteer Info pages to find out what you can do!

Special Thanks to:
Claudio Pacchiega
- programmed the core of HC
- long time Servas volunteer
- born 1969 in Torino, Italy
- working as programmer in Torino


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