This may have been discussed elsewhere as it seems too obvious to me but I haven't come across it yet so thought I'd put it down for potential discussion.
Our background - We are only hosts and have mixed experiences that is mainly positive in hosting over the approx 3 years of hosting. But what is consistent is most guests don't fill out a response, some only want to communicate by SMS and some partner with other Warmshowers members and don't become a member themselves.
What I would like to see is a formal way someone can negotiate their stay. This way there is an electronic trail of the request which could trigger events.
What about if a request form has to be filled in for each stay, the host replies to the form and as the date is recorded, the host could receive an email just preceding the stay as a reminder. After the stay the form isn't complete till both parties have filled out an automated response send to the recipients and if this doesn't occur a message is sent at later dates. It could even be that after a given time the guest cannot create another request till the form is complete.
There are many other possibilities and benefits Eg This way the site Administration will know actual numbers of who is accommodated. And of course this is how commercial sites like AirBnB do business so not out of the ordinary except this is volunteer driven.
Am I off track here? What do you think?
Yes, this has been discussed a number of times on WS (for the reasons you have sketched out and a few others) and I believe it is a long term goal.
It also received the second highest number of votes on the feature poll:
The warmshowers host is an oasis from the road, contact usually made within one or two days of arrival. A request form is bullshit. Those are my feeling toward the idea.
I'm not following you with this as I can't see how a form would change the arrangement.
In fact if a host asks for a minimum period between booking and hosting, the form could help by not allowing the choice of a request date earlier.
I also failed to mention a few things - a form could help with no-shows which I have a few lately. This could be built in so the rider has to explain why it didn't occur and would build a history if it happened often.
Also I often/mostly get requests from riders asking for my mobile number citing that they have poor Internet connections so prefer to discuss arrangements this way rather than through the WS messaging. This I have often done but it has come back to bite me too where my mobile number has been passed onto non-warmshowers riders requesting a stay as they then have a way to communicate to a WS host.
Still, you make a bureaucracy of something that is free and spontaneous. All we need is more crap paperwork to screw up a good thing. Still think it is a bullshit construct. Sorry.
For us here in Las Cruces, it is not an inconvenience to have cyclists passing through. It is one of life's little joys.
There seems to be miscommunication. It is always spontaneous with us because we get so few visitors through here to stay right now so it is always a joy to see new faces. If it isn't spontaneous and free, exactly what is hosting to you? From all outward appearances, it seems like an unnecessary chore from what I read.
both options can fit different needs and have their pro and cons.
If offered as an additional option- but not mandatory- everyone could decide if to use it, or at least request on their profile, that this form could be used as their preferred way of first contact.
I'm sort of confused as to what you are saying. If I were booking a stay, I'd be a Bed-&-Breakfast set-up and I'm not. I'm a retired gent with a modest house that enjoys the travelers sight unseen. Out of a few hundred we have had only one bad apple in the barrel, Matthew Ray. But 99.9% of people who pass through our place are upstanding citizens of whatever country they represent. Always respectful and clean and well-mannered. But booking someone makes us a Bed-&-Breakfast, and we dislike that label. --John & Donetta, Las Cruces, New Mexico