The Hospitality Club is an international, Internet-based hospitality service of appr. 553,000 members in 226 countries<ref>Based on statistics from Hospitality Club 'Main Menu' page visible for logged-in members only; retrieved on August 8, 2009.</ref> Its members use the website HospitalityClub.org to coordinate accommodation and other services, such as guiding or regaling travelers. Hospitality Club is currently the second largest such hospitality network, after CouchSurfing.
In terms of development the site has been pretty stagnant for many years now.
Hospitality Club was founded by Veit Kühne in 2000<ref>The kindness of strangers The Miami Herald, January 31, 2007</ref> with the help of friends and family<ref>Hospitality Club About us page HospitalityClub.org</ref> as a general-purpose Internet-based hospitality exchange organization. The organization, open to anybody, followed from a similar network organized by Veit Kühne exclusively for members of the student exchange organization AFS. The concept for Hospitality Club was inspired by the SIGHT hospitality network of Mensa and it is the successor of Hospex, the first Internet based hospitality exchange network, established in 1992 and with which it joined forces in 2005.<ref>http://hospex.org/</ref> Membership has since increased dramatically.
Membership in the organization is free and is obtained simply by registering on the website. The core activity of the organization is exchange of accommodation. Acting as a host, a member offers the possibility of accommodation at his leisure. As a guest, a traveler may find possible hosts and contact them through the website. No money is involved — guests and hosts do not pay each other.
The duration of the stay, whether food is provided for free, for a fee or not at all, and all other conditions are agreed on beforehand to the convenience of both parties.
After meeting, the host and guest may comment about each other. This provides a means to establish reputation which is the main security measure. Users have to provide their real identity, which is screened by volunteers, and protected against changes.
Apart from accommodation, members exchange other forms of hospitality, such as guiding visitors or providing travel-related advice. There are also wiki-like Travel Guide sections and forums where members may seek partners for travels, hitchhiking etc.
Volunteers within the club often arrange meetings or camps which are events that last several days that bring people together.
Organization and policies
The club is based on the work of hundreds of volunteers around the world. The motivation behind it is the idea that bringing people together and fostering international friendships will increase inter cultural understanding and strengthen peace. It is one of the largest hospitality networks, and there is a mission to find 1,000,000 friendly people.
There is no registered organization behind the website in Germany or other countries, and the domain name is directly registered to the founder of the site, Veit Kühne.<ref>Registration of hospitalityclub.org from WHOIS.</ref>, who is working full time on Hospitality Club.<ref>Christian Science Monitor: Backstory: Extreme vacation (at Christian Science Monitor)</ref> Veit has acknowledged that there will be no official structure for decision taking and that final decisions will always be with him.<ref>Veit about HC democracy and strategy, January 2009 from Wikileaks</ref>
The policy of the organization explicitly forbids alternative uses, such as dating, job-seeking, commercial use, and website promotions.<ref>Stop Spam in the Hospitality Club
</ref> In order to protect members' mailboxes from spam and to keep trust in the network at high levels a volunteer team scans the messages being sent across the site. Members may also opt-out of this service and receive all messages directly. The website includes a Forum with certain rules - for example it is forbidden to post personal data of other members, and volunteers prefer not to discuss the organization's strategy on the forum, but encourage members to contact them directly.<ref>Hospitality Club Forum rules</ref>
As a result of a disagreement between Veit Kühne and active Hospitality Club volunteers on various club policies, another hospitality exchange network, BeWelcome, was created in 2007.<ref>Template:Lt icon Template:Cite web</ref><ref> Template:Cite web</ref>