How to Write an Effective Couchsurfing Request: Inspired by Failure

We love to put couch surfers up in our place. It’s great to have traveler’s come through because they have interesting perspectives and it’s great to make the connections. The truth is that I deny about 90% of the people who reach out to me. Why do I shut most people down? It’s because of messages like this:

Hey, i am travelling a backpacker tour from Sydney to Cairns. And i want to stay two nights in Surfers Paradise. Is it possible that i can sleep at your’s?Pleas call me, because i have not allways Internet, only when there is a free wifi. (his phone number)best regards (couch surfer)

Hey everybody, let’s count the mistakes:

  • 1st = Hey,

So this guy didn’t even bother to write my name in here, that tells me he could be copying and pasting this to everyone on the Gold Coast. Where is the improvement opportunity? Mention the person you are writing to.

  • 2nd = I am traveling a backpacker tour from Sydney to Cairns…

You know what? Everyone seeking a couch to crash on in the Gold Coast is doing that. Want to know another thing? I don’t care. Where is the improvement opportunity? Don’t say mundane, un-inspiring things that matter nothing to the person your hoping to mooch off of.

  • 3rd = I want to stay two nights in Surfers Paradise…

Great, I want a business that cashflows $10,000 a month, a ranch on the beach and a quiver of surfboards. I don’t care what you want. Where is the improvement opportunity? Start with the value you bring to the interaction. Example: “You guys would love my cooking because I make a fantastic German schnitzel ” You see what I did here? It’s not about what you want couch surfer, it’s about telling the dude with the couch that your presence isn’t going to be a friggin headache!

  • 4th = Is it possible that I can sleep at yours?

Check the profile of the couches you are surfing. We offer people a really nice queen bed dummy, not a couch. Where’s the improvement opportunity? “I read that you guys have a bed to sleep on and while I would totally appreciate that, I’m super easy and I’d be happy to sleep out back on the grass.” You see what I did here? With this statement, you make a point that you read about the couch while reaffirming that you aren’t going to be a soul sucking drain on life while you couch surf.

  • 5th = Pleas call me, because i have not allways Internet, only when there is a free wifi.

Sure dude, I’ll call you. I love calling stranger vagabonds with absolutely nothing to offer. Get lost. Where’s the opportunity for improvement? “Though my access to internet is going to be spotty over the next few days, I’d be honored to connect in anyway possible. My phone number is 0404533938 but if you just reply to this message with your number, I’ll be happy to text you when I get into town.” You see what happened here dummy? You explain the situation and offer a solution that doesn’t require the couch baron to do extra work to get your lazy tail to his place. Oh and texting is the way to go. “Please call me”? I hope you like the $30 crappy hostel in Surfers.

  • 6th = best regards,

Tips on CouchSurfingReally? best regards? You couldn’t even be bothered to put a capital letter at the front? Where’s the room for improvement? Look dummy, proper CouchSurfers sign off with better salutations. Next time try: -With Awesomeness -Wheeeeeeee -Graciously -Excitedly – YOU ROCK!

So yeah, your CouchSurfing request was a 100% failure. With luck, I hope someone else reads this and is inspired to have an excellent request and experience with CouchSurfing.
Now here’s the interaction part. Write a compelling CouchSurfer request in the commment section below. Winner gets a pizza.

25 Replies to “How to Write an Effective Couchsurfing Request: Inspired by Failure”

  1. This is super awesome. I’ve been hosting for years and sometimes you get a FANTASTIC request, other times… not so much. We’re so glad to have you has part of our community! Thanks for sharing your tips with the world 🙂

  2. Oh man I’ve seen so many like this. I am also a member of my city’s last minute requests group but have never hosted anyone through it because all the messages are so frantic and selfish (I understand that those requests by nature are generic, but it’s not all about you- a little creativity/gratitude goes a long way).

    1. LoL! No! It’s everywhere. I was hoping it was just happening here in Australia, but it seems like it’s a very common problem in the CS world.

  3. I’ve found your post on somebody’s Couchsurfing profile. I live in Poland, host quite a lot and I recieve selfish requests all the time. I put the link in my profile too, I hope you don’t mind. Thanks for summing this up.

  4. I’ve put a secret request in my profile (asking people to call me by my nickname) just to see if they even read my profile! Your text is exactly what I needed, hope you don’t mind I’ll send the link to everyone with a “i NEED a place to stay” request – who doesn’t? If you need one, book a hotel, if you’re interested in me and meeting people , at least put together a nice request ! I hate what couch surfing has become :/

    1. Hey Sabrina, Thank you for the comment and I appreciate you sharing the post with the delinquents!

      Keep your head up. CouchSurfing is a community like any other and like all communities, you’ve got your stars and those with… room for improvement.

  5. Hullo friends . I am visiting Australia from India and would love to meet people from different parts of the world. I have recently become a member of couch surfers. Will be travelling to Cairns from 27th Aug 2015 till 3rd Sept and would be grateful if I could couch surf with some one.
    In Sydney from 3rd to the 9th of September and Melbourne from the 10th to the 17th of Sept. Look forward to hearing from all you wonderful people.
    Zed. Email

  6. I was looking for a link to put on my profile to stop being hammered with such and\or worse requests.
    google searched it with hope to find something vaguely suggesting to surfers as to what a half decent request is.

    found this GEM of an article. hilariously on point!
    credit to you – that is for me shamelessly using your link in profile.
    but really – Thanks for penning it down mate!

  7. Hi joshi,

    I was wondering if I could stay on your couch on the 29th of December and 1st of January. I’m doing the routteburn track and didn’t realise how difficult it was going to be to find accomidation before and after my trek.

    I’m a friendly person who is looking for a mix of fun and spiritual growth on my little New Zealand getaway, so happy to get involved and join you all in yoga or a pub crawl!!

  8. I guess everone on Cs must have a great command of the english language like you do. with all due respect, you’re a little too picky and you have the right to be picky. It is your couch. I’ve away thought the best part of Cs was that it breaks down the cultural divide and makes people more culturally competent. I don’t disagree with all of what you’ve said. Approach is everything. I would’ve agreed with you more if you pushed for further dialogue and provided constructive advice to those individuals who sent you failed Cs request. If your article had been about this instead, it would have been interesting.

    1. You’re right, this blog post is a bit picky. It’s a mad rant and I’m not into expressing anger in general…

      That being said, I noticed you wrote, “it is your couch.” Perhaps you didn’t actually read the post. It wasn’t a couch, it was a bed. This is the kind of lack of focus I’m addressing in the post.

      I agree with what you’re saying. CouchSurfing is about enjoying the weirdness of having uncommon people come and live with you for a short time.

      That being said, CouchSurfers need to know that hosts get bombarded with crap invites. If you’re a CouchSurfer and you want to have enriching stays, you should be aware of this and craft excellence into your CouchSurfing requests. That’s what this post is about.

  9. Ian, I was browsing through some Couchsurfing blog posts, and I came across yours. Had the same problem when I started hosting in the Gold Coast mid-2012. Hosted some great CSfers, but also had a lot of shitty requests. I guess that’s what you get living in Surfers Paradise. The requests did start to calm down a little when I move to Main Beach – the extra 30min walk / 5min bus ride must have been too much for them to handle.

    1. Yup. Agreed. It’s cool to be supportive of the community, but the purpose of this letter was to vent a little and provide CouchSurfers with a perspective on thinking more critically about their messages. 😀

    1. 🙂 Not in Australia anymore. Please feel free to add me on CouchSurfing if you want to cross paths one day.

  10. Thank you for sharing this, I implemented your advice and ended up getting a coach in Austria. I think the art of writing good coach surfing requests is applicable to a job hunting. Like you hosts are particularly interested in what surfers have to offer, companies want to see what applicants have to serve. Job hunters and guests want a place to settle, be it a coach for a few nights or a job.

    1. Agreed 100%. Thank you for the comment. It make me happy to hear that you used this to make a good connection in Austria.

  11. I just ralize how crappy my previous couch request. Thank you for this Ian! I’ll do my best effort on my next request toreally connect with my potential host through couch request even before I meet them. 🙂

  12. Well, just came across a European woman as a host. I just loved her complete and detailed way of describing of who she was…..
    The ultimate detail in her description about her home, was the thingthat caught my attention was:
    It was something like this:
    Anybody can stay here, but my pet rabit/bunny has free access to some of the sleeping areas. So you need to be ok with a ‘wandering rabbit’ in my house…..
    I just LOVED the way she specified so many details, and the awesome bunny-detail made it more personal than most people’s stories.
    I would’ve just started with that, having a 11yr old, stubborn and strong daughter. This detail alone won me over…. Sadly I couldn’t really go on vacation, but I will never forget her, because of that silly bunny ‘disadvantage”…..
    So yes…. I will be able to write the most effective request by focusing on het detailed describing of herself and her life and being so curious about her life and what drives her.
    And that would come straight from my heart.

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