On May 8th, thought leaders in the “Hospitality Exchange” or HospEx communities came together to share their insights about HospEx organizations they have been a part of.

We heard from founders and lead developers to organizations such as Warm Showers, BeWelcome, Trustroots, Couchers and Servas. We heard their histories, how they operate today and their vision for the future.

We discussed the pro’s and con’s of implementing paywalls to membership of HospEx organizations, and what that looked like, and to explore more in depth the contorversial decisions Couchsurfing has made in implementing one as such.

There was a discussion around working to see what resources from existing HospEx networks are available and the idea of collaborating more. There were other in depth talks about tech and community and afterwards, everyone discussed robustly for hours.

In total, the HospEx Summit lasted 3.5 hours with another 4 hours continuing into discussions.

There are plans to host another one. We will keep the conversation going as HospEx networks shift, develop and grow.

Thanks for all who spoke at the summit, our facilitators and our attendees, and our yogi hippie who did breathing exercises for us at the intermission. We all had a great time!

Check out all the videos below to see the talks.

Opening to the HospEx Summit

Introduction to the Platforms – Hospitality Exchange

Paywalls: A Blessing of a Curse?

A HospEx Ecosystem: Would it make sense?

IT Tech Talk – Hospitality Exchange

Facilitating Communities in Difficult Times

Speakers at the HospEx Summit

We are happy to announce this Summits speakers, coming from various platforms and bringing decades of expertise building and facilitating HospEx networks.

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Aapeli is a Finnish-Australian software engineer and mathematician currently doing a PhD at Columbia University in New York City. He is an avid traveller, having lived in half a dozen major cities and visited
more countries than he can count. He has over a decade of experience designing and building scalable yet performant software systems and has taken several projects from idea to execution. He cofounded the Couchers.org project and leads the product team in charge of the architecture and development of the platform.

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Fred started traveling young, 18yo and it’s not common for Indonesian. He was official government for at least 12 years and then worked with International Red Cross Societies and some international NGOs. Last corporate job was a banker, and now He is a Digital Nomad, a global citizen based in Bali. Was a CS ambassador for more then 10 years and a volunteer and greeter of BeWelcome.

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Actively entered the HospEx scene around 2005 during his time in Peru. Upon his return, he started growing the local group of Bremen in northern Germany – including two regular monthly meetings and an invasion from Milan. Regular participant of the Berlin Beach Camp, Mont Royal Summer Camp and various other bigger and smaller events throughout Europe. From 2005 to 2011, he hosted roughly 250 people and visited about 150. Volunteered for Hospitality Club and BeWelcome.
Member of inofficial groups such as: HCPF (Hospitality Club Party Fraction) and the Balkan Mafia.

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Emily is a former nomadic ambassador originally from Maine, USA. She has lived and hosted Couchsurfers since 2008 mostly in New York City, Istanbul, and Hiroshima. She’s also surfed and workaway’d in more than 20 countries. Currently she works remotely as a narrative designer for
mobile games and volunteers with the Couchers.org community outreach team!

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In 1998 I started hosting my self-built websites on Linux. I co-founded some non-profit communities such as hitchwiki.org (2006), trashwiki.org (2008) and Trustroots (2014).

I know a lot about SEO, Drupal, MediaWiki, WordPress, PHP, Python, JavaScript, Debian and affiliate marketing.
Learning languages is an extended hobby of mine. I speak Dutch, English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and more.


Jonny Sågänger


Servas International, SI

Servas background:

2019–2022: third mandate period as elected

2016–2018: second mandate period as elected

2012–2015: first mandate period as elected SI President

2006–2012: Member of Servas Sweden’s national board. National Secretary 2009–2012.

1984: Joined Servas.

Member of BeWelcome and Couchsurfing.

Profession: Journalist.

Editor of the news service Insight Medicine (Insikt Medicin) which covers the business and politics of life science.

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Anja Kühner aka duesseldorf is spokesperson and former “CEO” for BeWelcome. She joined HospitalityClub in 2002 and started volunteering for HC. She was one of the “rebels” who left HC in 2006 to found BeWelcome. Between 2007 and 2020 she was also an active member of Couchsurfing with 400+ references until her profile got deleted. In 2010 she published the book about HospEx networks “(Fast) Gratis Reisen” – so far in German only. In her life outside of HospEx she is a journalist specialized in economics and also a tourist guide in Düsseldorf. 

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I am 25 years old. I was brought up in Israel in an English-speaking family. In June 2020 I graduated with a degree in Computer Science from Marburg University, in Frankfurt, Germany. I speak English and Hebrew as a native, and I’ve become fluent in German by living in Germany for the past few years (fast akzentfrei).
I am currently living in Bern, Switzerland, working for a company called Aarenet.

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I’m a HospEx member in Heidelberg during the day, and a software developer at night. I exclusively host guests, with around 750 surfers since 2013. Meeting all kinds of travellers, visitors, movers, and new friends has been an amazing experience and has become a very important part of my life!

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Nichole has been active in the couchsurfing community for over ten years, facilitating the Dallas-Fort Worth community and essentially being an ambassador. She has hosted over 300 travelers through the years, and in her professional life, she runs her company Deconel, which creates luxury surface coverings to jets, hotels and restaurants. She has also traveled extensively around the world and loves Taiwan in particular, where she used to live.


KRYSIA is a dreamer, an artistic soul, but down to the earth in many things, and also with a good memory for things and places ;-), a shy girl who tries to fight her drawbacks. She is a current Board Member at BeWelcome.

In May 2020 I asked myself what can I do for BW and started helping to coordinate Translations group and later during GA 2020 I dared to put my candidature to BoD 2020/2021 – so here I go, spending quite some time for BW almost every day – if you have any questions, just ask.


Long distance bike tourer and a human being lost in software engineer world. Likes to explore and finds sense of freedom in writing code. Passionate about open source software for more open society. Loves forests and mountains.

In the past worked for huge corporations but never made a good fit for them. Her experiences span from technically onboarding new teams in Bangalore, India, to trying to decentralize organizational structure of IBM Cloud in Chicago, USA from bottom up – after all, team scalability issues are not that different then those solved by distributed object storage they worked on.

Years long member and contributor to the community built WarmShowers Android app. Currently volunteers with WelcomeToMyGarden.org and Trustroots.org. While she usually prefers to stay in a tent, as a WS host met many great individuals. Hopes unique bicycle touring community could stay together. Traveled by bicycle, kayak or food in over 30 countries in Europe, Asia, America and Africa.Currently lives surrounded by woods in her home village near Warsaw, Poland. This is where her first, hitchhiking trips to the highschool took place 20 years ago

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