The co-creation of host–guest relationships via couchsurfing: a qualitative study

Markus Rolf Schuckert, Mike Peters, Gerhard Pilz

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Online hospitality and traveller platforms have spawned novel formulas of hospitality for new networks of hosts and guests, including couchsurfers, who, while staying in the private homes of hosts, explore destinations while living as and with locals. As a growing phenomenon in the non-traditional accommodation sector, couchsurfing has attracted sustained attention in tourism, since, unlike traditional hospitality formulas and even non-traditional ones such as Airbnb, couchsurfers and their hosts do not pay any tourism-related taxes or fees. To understand the motivations and behaviours of couchsurfers and hosts, we conducted 14 narrative interviews with couchsurfers in Austria, who painted detailed pictures of the patterns of their travel behaviour, their perceptions of host–guest relationships, and the relevance of those relationships to the couchsurfers’ overall travel experiences. Results reveal that couchsurfers generally travel as backpackers do and, as such, seek out diverse social interactions with locals that afford them various degrees of familiarity with destinations. The results also underscore that couchsurfing constitutes a cultural exchange and accommodation experience beyond the mere consumption of hospitality products. Accordingly, the community of couchsurfers represents interesting territory for further research in tourism, particularly given its capacity to meet consumers’ demands for authentic experiences in tourism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)220-234
Number of pages15
JournalTourism Recreation Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2018


  • co-creation
  • Hospitality network
  • non-traditional accommodation
  • sharing economy
  • travel behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management
  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development


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