How can I assess if a member is trustworthy?
Some people say that trust is a matter of instinct or “gut feeling”. “Go with your guts” works very well for some people but not for others and we recommend that you take all available information into account when deciding who to host, stay with or meet:
- A person’s profile is the most important place to get information about this person on BeWelcome. Essentially, it is a self-presentation and you should always keep this in mind. However, a profile can give you a first impression of that person, how he/she presents him-/herself and what his/her interests, preferences and quirks are. The photo(s) can also give you useful hints about the member and tell as much if not more than the written self-portrait.
- A profile may also include comments from other members as well as about other members. If you do not want to rely on self-presentation only, these comments will tell you what experiences other members had with this person. However, when reading comments, please bear in mind that for various reasons many find it more difficult to write honest comments about a not-so-good experience than to write flattering comments about a good experience. Comments may therefore not always tell the whole story, or never be written at all. In addition to the comments written about the member in question, the comments that this member has left on other profiles might be of interest and reveal some of the member’s personality.
- The section “Family and friends” on the profile shows you who this person lives with or who are his/her friends. This means that you may meet these people too if you are staying with this member. Check out their profiles as well to find out more about them.
- In cases of serious complaints against a member we might put a warning on that member’s profile (or depending on the situation, remove this member from BeWelcome completely) to make sure you are aware of reported serious safety issues with this member.
- If you need more information than is available on the profile or in the exchange of messages, do not hesitate to ask until you obtain all the information you need in order to be comfortable with hosting, staying with or meeting the person. If after that you still don’t feel comfortable with the idea of spending time with the person, don’t do it. You should never feel obliged to do anything you don’t feel like doing.
In addition to reviewing this information on profiles, it is also advisable to exercise caution if your exchange with a member follows the following pattern:
- A member contacts you with a very urgent request.
- If you have published some contact details on your profile, this request will probably be made outside of the BeWelcome platform – by e-mail, phone, instant messenger, Skype, etc. If you haven’t published any contact details, the person might ask you to reply outside of the BeWelcome messaging system. Alternatively, the person approaches you during a hospitality event to ask for your hospitality without giving you the possibility to have a look at the profile.
- The person puts you under much pressure to reply immediately and positively (otherwise they would have to sleep in the streets and be very miserable) and give you no time to actually review the profile.
- If you do have time to review the profile, it is (rather) empty, there are no personal description, no profile picture (or none where the member is recognizable), and no comments. Most likely the member will say that they are new to BeWelcome and haven’t had time to fill in the profile.
Certainly not every request of that sort will end up in an unpleasant experience but you should be aware that there is little we can do to help you in case it does.