CouchSurfing - when a travel community needs a new lifeNewsBy Viewpoints | May 28, 2013Share This article was originally published on NB: This is a viewpoint from Drew Meyers, co-founder of Oh Hey World.I won't pretend to be a diehard CouchSurfing community member. I've never hosted or surfed, only attended meetups in Barcelona and Chiang Mai.But, if there is one thing I feel I understand really well, it's community building -- something I spent much of my 4.5 years at Zillow doing.And it appears the CouchSurfing community is experiencing major rifts recently according to outspoken voices online. There have been hints of this for awhile, so it's not a new phenomenon.In fact, there is an entire other website devoted to keeping others up to date on the happenings of the CS community. It's clear the CouchSurfing community isn't what it once was. The question is -- what to do now?There is only one way to turn around this ship. To some, it may sound drastic...1. Fire your top execsI hope it goes without saying, this really has nothing to do with the current execs. I've never met any of them, and I'm sure they are incredibly talented individuals.Their company just happens to need leadership from individuals with CS credibility -- and I mean real credibility with the community; not business or technology credibility.None of that means anything to loyal CouchSurfers members who have volunteered their time for years helping other travelers visiting their beloved cities and all they care about is having amazing experiences while they travel.2. Hire from within the community.Scour the CouchSurfing community, and find a passionate community member who has been involved for a long time and is trusted by all the influential community members.Likely, this person will have run meetup groups in a large city, such as Barcelona, with an extremely engaged and active community.He or she will probably know most of the Couchsurfing staff on a first name basis. I don't believe there is a way for anyone other than someone who has "lived" CouchSurfing and has considerable credibility in the community to right this ship.The ideal new leader needs to be obsessed with facilitating more host-surfer relationships. Give them "co-founder" status if that's what it takes, otherwise they simply won't care enough to put in the work needed.3. Go on a roadshow and visit the most active 50-75 CouchSurfing communities.Send the new CEO across the gobe for a year, and stay at least several days in each active community. Get to know the local players. Have beers. Trade stories. And most importantly, LISTEN.The cool thing? The right person would love nothing better than to travel the globe and build relationships with other hosts and surfers.It's my belief there is no one who cares more than founders. So, of course the other option is to bring the original founders back to revitalize the company (the Apple approach to greatness). Couchsurfing has been an institution in travel for the past decade.Even if the dynamics of the community were not your travel style, most every long-term, active world traveler heard the term bounced around on a regular basis.In the recent years though, they lost the heart of what made the community grow and thrive ... and it doesn't have to stay that way.The steps to fixing Couchsurfing would seem radical, it likely looks like a terrible thing on paper to the money crunchers now heading up that department, but it may just be the only way to save the community and bring back elements of the spirit that made this movement great.Without community support, Couchsurfing is nothing. Continue down the current path of alienating their community? CouchSurfing is toast.NB: This is a viewpoint from Drew Meyers, co-founder of Oh Hey World. Meyers is an ex-Zillow community builder and now social entrepreneur and microfinance advocate.