Formalizing Hookup Compensation

More than Just Boondockers

We've said it before and we'll say it again: When we started Boondockers Welcome, we expected hosts to do exactly that and nothing more – welcome boondockers. We had no expectations that anyone would provide hookups of any sort. We were amazed at the generosity of our hosts, some of whom have gone to great lengths to add 50A hookups and more for their Boondockers Welcome guests.

However, all generosity has to have a limit, otherwise the giver begins to feel unappreciated, and the whole system crumbles.

A year and a half ago we introduced our Guest Courtesy Contract, which requires that guests offer to compensate hosts when they use hookups. This has helped a bit in trying to ensure that hosts aren't out-of-pocket for their generosity. However, questions and confusion still often remain.

"How much should I offer to compensate if I use an electric hookup at a host location?"

"I feel awkward asking for guests to pay for their usage, but my electricity bill went up significantly last season with all the guests I welcomed."

These are some of the questions and comments that we see on a regular basis, both in our Facebook Group and in messages sent to us. We want to finally put a rest to some of these questions,

So, as of today, all hosts will be asked to update their profile to include a suggested donation to cover the cost of hookups, if the guest uses them. This value will appear on a host profile, in the "Amenities Available" section.

Hookup Compensation Cannot Be An Income Source

We have given 4 possible values for hosts to choose from – "no donation requested", or one of $5, $10 or $15 per night. Hosts can choose their suggested donation based on the factors that apply to their site (local electricity rates, 15A vs 50A, etc), but can always accept less when a guest arrives depending on their usage. We've put a cap on the suggested donation amount at $15 after polling hosts and determining that almost all rigs will be below that amount, regardless of size or usage.

But the most important rule here is this:

Boondockers Welcome cannot be used as an income source. Donations to cover hookups must be on a cost-recovery basis only.

The reason for this is two-fold:

  1. Boondockers Welcome's purpose is that of RVers helping RVers. Charging fees for hookup usage beyond covering costs is not inline with the spirit of the platform. Those who wish to make money from their land have many other options where they can list it like Tentrr or Hipcamp.
  2. Most property insurance policies will not cover you if you are using your property to generate income from your guests. We don't want our hosts to find that their insurance suddenly won't cover something because they've been charging guests a fee.

Non-compliant Hosts

We've had lots of new hosts sign up over the past few months, some of whom are in contravention of this cost-recovery only requirement. We're sending out notices to all our hosts asking them to log on and update their profile, but if you happen across a host who indicates in their profile that they're charging a fee for services beyond our caps, please let us know, and we'll set them straight.

A Donation is Not the Same as a Thank You

While we'd like to think that this reminder is unnecessary, we want to remind our guests that paying your host for any hookup costs is not the same as a genuine thank you. This is not a business transaction for our hosts, they are still giving of their time and energy to make a space for you and welcome you to their property, regardless of whether you use any hookups they provide or not. Please always be sure to thank your host, say a proper goodbye, and then leave them a reference after your stay.

Boondocking is Still Always Free

And just one final note, to remind all our hosts, guests and those thinking and dreaming of become one or the other, that boondocking is always free! Our hosts must provide free boondocking, it's always up to the guest whether they want or need to use any provided hookups and compensate the host for them. 

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