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Stay at Home... All Over the World! opened its online doors to the LGBT travel market in August 2006. It was a fairly simple idea: worldwide LGBT members join the online club to host other members and be guests in other member’s homes. Accommodations are often free, but members can choose to accept a minimal gratuity to cover expenses, with a suggested $15 to $25 gratuity.


“My partner and I fled New Orleans following hurricane Katrina,” said entrepreneur Lewis Routh. “We ended up in Galveston, Texas, where the gay community literally opened up their hearts and homes to us and other evacuees. We felt this concept of having a home-away-from-home could be expanded to include the LGBT traveler. The Hospigaiety Club idea was born.”


Members have access to an online Member Directory where they can peruse Member Profiles, search – using multiple parameters – and message these members with the intention of either “Hosting” or “Traveling as a Guest”.


The success of this online club has at times overwhelmed the new owners. “We weren’t prepared for the immediate interest,” said co-owner Marlin Haindfield, the technical-wizard behind the interactive design of the database which is the heart of the Member Directory, “Members began signing up from the very first day! Within a week we had members all over the world, and memberships began to grow exponentially after that!”


Realizing the club wouldn’t work without members, the Routh/Haindfield owners initially opened the doors to their “faithful friends,” those 100 trusting souls who believed in the dream and were willing to wait for other members to sign on. They didn’t have to wait long. Within the first few months a guest member in Israel became the first to travel and stay with a Host member in Australia. Both members gave 10 star-ratings to each other and claimed the exchange was an unqualified success. In February 2007, the 100th “faithful friend” member signed on and the membership became a pay site. $50 per year for new members, and – to celebrate the occasion, the co-owners added Blogs and Photo Albums to the Member Profiles. All personal information is hidden, members know other members by an online member name and the city (state) and country where the member’s accommodations are located. New messages between members are alerted through the hidden e-mail addresses of members. When members formalize the accommodations, the physical address and phone numbers are exchanged.


“We keep repeating the credos learned in kindergarten,” said copy-writer/graphic artist Routh, “–Share, Learn, Play and Have Fun. It’s why our slogan is, Stay at home all over the world!”


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