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Management Center Innsbruck | Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

The Long Tail of Tourism: Consumer Behaviour of CouchSurfers

MASTER THESIS

For Attainment of the Academic Degree Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Program: “Entrepreneurship & Tourism” Management Center Innsbruck

Supervising Tutor: A. Univ. Prof. Dr. Mike Peters

Author: Gerhard Pilz, BA 1010487014

3. August 2012

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Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

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Affidavit

„I herewith declare in lieu of an oath, that I independently composed the Master Thesis at hand. Directly or indirectly adopted thoughts from external sources are indicated as such. The Thesis was not submitted in this or any similar form for another degree or diploma at any university or other institute of tertiary education nor has it been publicized.“

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„Ich erkläre hiermit an Eides Statt, dass ich die vorliegende Masterarbeit selbständig angefertigt habe. Die aus fremden Quellen direkt oder indirekt übernommenen Gedanken sind als solche kenntlich gemacht. Die Arbeit wurde bisher weder in gleicher noch in ähnlicher Form einer anderen Prüfungsbehörde vorgelegt und auch noch nicht veröffentlicht.“

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Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

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Acknowledgements I am very grateful for all the people who contributed so this thesis could come into being. I want to thank my friend Morten for getting me on the right track with the topic for my thesis and I want to thank my supervisor Prof. Dr. Peters for being fine with the late change of topic. A very special Thank you! also to Jacob – my first CouchSurfing host – and to my friend Stephanie, for sharing this first CouchSurfing experience with me. You both gave me a great start into this adventure. Many, many thanks also to all the lovely CouchSurfers I have met on my way so far. Lots of thanks to the interview partners in Graz, Salzburg and Innsbruck. You helped a great deal with your insights and sharing of experience. Many thanks also to my friend Brittany from Canada, who helped me with proofreading the thesis. Not least, I am deeply grateful for my family and friends, who provide an open-minded environment and are eager for new experience. Thank you all!


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

Not how a person treats a friend, tells you about them, but how a person treats a stranger. (Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321)

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Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

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Abstract Motivation is a critical factor determining consumer behaviour. Research in travel and tourism industry in this respect so far concentrated on the issue of travel motivation and examined factors that influence the traveler in the decision whether to travel and on motives for choosing a destination. Yet, the Internet era and the introduction of social networks brought changes to the decision making process of travelers. More than that, social networking facilitated the development of new travel forms, which bypass the commercial accommodation sector. One travel form emerging from social networking is the hospitality exchange network CouchSurfing.org, which connects CouchSurfers searching for accommodation with hosts who are willing to provide the same. Existing studies on CouchSurfing elaborate on issues of trust and transition from online interaction to offline relationship. Only recently the topic of social interaction and authenticity gets more attention in the realm of hospitality exchange networks. The focus of this study is the guest-host relationship in the context of CouchSurfing and its effect on the CouchSurfer’s travel behaviour within the destination. Thereby the study concentrates on recommendations by the host and the nature of such advice, and suggests that hosts recommend personal experiences and preferences, which are more likely located in the Long Tail of tourism. Thus, the study elaborates on the theoretical framework important for the research of the study and includes general motivation theories of Maslow and the intrinsic-extrinsic dichotomy, as well as the travel-related concepts Travel Career Pattern and Push and Pull motivation theory. Further, it explains the idea of Long Tail tourism and introduces the travel form of CouchSurfing. The source of primary research was depth interviews, which were conducted with members of the platform CouchSurfing.org in the Austrian cities of Graz, Salzburg, and Innsbruck. The analysis shows that CouchSurfers regard recommendation by the host to be an essential part of the travel form and there is substantial influence on the travel behaviour. Also, we found similarities between CouchSurfing and the travel forms of backpacking, VFR, and Agritourism. However, the results do not show generalized criteria for choosing a certain host.


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Index of Contents

Affidavit ......................................................................................................... I   Acknowledgements ..................................................................................... II   Abstract ...................................................................................................... IV   Index of Contents......................................................................................... V   Index of Figures ........................................................................................ VII   Index of Tables ....................................................................................... VIII   Index of Abbreviations ............................................................................... IX   1   Introduction ............................................................................................. 1   2   Theoretical Framework ........................................................................... 4   2.1   The Long Tail of Tourism ......................................................................................... 5   2.1.1   Pareto’s Principle & the Long Tail Concept in e-Commerce .............................................. 5   2.1.2   The Long Tail Concept and Tourism................................................................................ 6   2.1.3   The Long Tail Concept as a Form of Add-on Product/Service ......................................... 8  

2.2   Motivation Theory ...................................................................................................... 9   2.2.1   Intrinsic Vs. Extrinsic Motivation .................................................................................10   2.2.2   Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs .........................................................................................11   2.2.3   Travel Motivation ..........................................................................................................13   2.2.3.1   Travel Career Ladder & Travel Career Pattern

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2.2.3.2   Push and Pull Motivation

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2.2.3.3   Spending Motivation

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2.3   Social Networks & Travel Behaviour .................................................................... 21   2.3.1   History of Social Networks ............................................................................................21   2.3.2   The Internet & Online Social Media .............................................................................22   2.3.3   The Motivation to Participate in Online Social Media ....................................................24  


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2.3.4   Customer Recommendation & The New Travel Behaviour .............................................26   2.3.4.1   Customer Recommendation & Word-of-Mouth

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2.3.4.2   Measurement of Customer Recommendation

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2.4   CouchSurfing – A New Form of Traveling? ........................................................ 31   2.4.1   CouchSurfing.org ............................................................................................................32   2.4.2   The Motivation of CouchSurfers .....................................................................................34  

2.5   Research Questions & Theses: CouchSurfers and the Long Tail...................... 37  

3   The Study ............................................................................................... 40   3.1   Methodology .............................................................................................................. 40   3.1.1   Guideline Design ............................................................................................................41   3.1.2   Information Collection ....................................................................................................43  

3.2   Analysis & Discussion .............................................................................................. 45   3.2.1   CouchSurfers and the Long Tail .....................................................................................45   3.2.2   CouchSurfers and Local People .......................................................................................47   3.2.3   CouchSurfers and Insider Knowledge ...............................................................................49   3.2.4   CouchSurfers Search for Similar Interest .........................................................................51   3.2.5   Hosts Prefer Similar Interest ..........................................................................................53   3.2.6   The Impact of Recommendation ......................................................................................54   3.2.7   Hosts Recommend their own Interest ...............................................................................56   3.2.8   Hosts Recommend Own Experience................................................................................57   3.2.9   Hosts Recommend the Long Tail ....................................................................................59   3.2.10  CouchSurfers Search for the Long Tail ...........................................................................61   3.2.11  CouchSurfers and the Host’s Habits ...............................................................................62   3.2.12  CouchSurfers and the Host’s Experience ........................................................................65  

4   Conclusion and Recommendations for Further Research .................... 68   Bibliography ................................................................................................ 73   Appendix .....................................................................................................A1


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

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Index of Figures Figure 1: The Long Tail of Netflix DVD Sales, retrieved from Anderson (2009a) ......................... 6   Figure 2: The Long Tail of Travel, retrieved from Anderson (2009b) .............................................. 7   Figure 3: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, own depiction based on Maslow & Frager (1987) ....... 11   Figure 4: Travel Career Ladder, Source: Pearce 1991. ........................................................................ 16   Figure 5: Travel Career Pattern, own depiction according to Hsu & Huang (2008) ..................... 17   Figure 6: The Process of Customer Recommendation - adapted from Garnefeld (2008, p. 10) 28   Figure 7: CouchSurfer Map, Source: CouchSurfing.org (2012c) ...................................................... 34   Figure 8: Backpackers: A Conceptual Framework (Loker-Murphy & Pearce 1995, p.830) ......... 47   Figure 9: The 4 Realms of Experience, taken from Oh et al. (2007) ............................................... 65  


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

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Index of Tables Table 1: Operationalization of Theses for the Interview ................................................................... 42   Table 2: Thematic Blocks as used in the Guideline ............................................................................ 42   Table 3: Summary Profile of Interview Participants ........................................................................... 43  


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

Index of Abbreviations CHE

Commercial Home Enterprise

eWOM

Electronic Word of Mouth

IT

Information Technology

POI

Point of Interest

TCL

Travel Career Ladder

TCP

Travel Career Pattern

UGC

User-Generated Content

VFR

Visiting Friends and Relatives

WOM

Word of Mouth

WWOOF

Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms

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Introduction

Every student in a management course learns about consumer behaviour and how to understand a customer’s need in order to improve services and eventually increase market share and profits for the own company. In a world of Fast Moving Consumer Goods, where one product easily substitutes another, an understanding of consumer behaviour is thus crucial for success in the market place. Being no consumer good in the classical sense (Lovelock & Gummesson 2004) the services of travel and tourism industry are also changing quicker than ever. Going with the term of experience economy coined by Pine and Gilmore (1999), it makes sense to assign the term Fast Moving Consumer Experiences to the services of travel and tourism industry. Through this fast-moving nature of consumerism it is more important than ever to know about the motivation behind people’s behaviour; why they choose a certain product or service. Why do many people favour an iPhone over an Android-based cell phone? Why do people organize in sports and other clubs without any (material) benefit? Why do people choose a holiday destinations over another, although prices, the basic set of activities and the scenery are very similar? Why do people travel at all? A concept that plays a role in forming motivation and influences the wants and needs of an individual is the social network around a person. In the Internet age, and especially in the last few years a relatively young phenomenon becomes increasingly significant in this context: online social networking. Before the Internet became a medium of mass communication and social exchange, individuals mainly were influenced by their “real world” social networks – i.e. family and friends, peers, and colleagues at work – and to some extend through mass media like television, newspapers or magazines. Today, social networking sites have increased the volume, speed, and instant access to information, and people are no longer dependent on third parties to aggregate and deliver information, but go to the source directly and get in touch with a producer, service provider, and people around the globe without even getting up from the couch in their living room. Social networking has brought a radical change to communication and information exchange, but also to the meaning of friends, peers, and organizations like clubs. The advancement of information technology has brought about the phenomenon of Long Tail. First observed by


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Anderson (2004) in e-Commerce, the concept suggests that a substantial amount of sales comes from outside the top sellers of the respective product category, which is due to new mechanisms in online recommendation. Social media and Web 2.0 definitely have an impact on the way of traveling as well. Web portals like Tripadvisor have user contributions in the millions (Tripadvisor 2012) and – taking the U.K. as an example – 1 in 4 (female) consumers uses the platform before booking a holiday (WTM 2010). However, social networking has not only created new ways for obtaining information about traveling, social networking has led to new ways of traveling itself – be it services like home exchange or CouchSurfing. The travel form of CouchSurfing in its essence is not a very new one: having people stay at your place for free as a matter of hospitality is probably as old as mankind itself. Already the Bible tells us about providing for other people and welcoming them in our home (e.g. Judges 19:1621). However, the sheer size and interactivity of platforms like CouchSurfing.org would not have been possible without the facilitation of online social networks. CouchSurfing.org is by far the biggest platform that connects people who offer or search a place to stay. “Couches” can be found almost anywhere in the world, and this ubiquity provides the possibility to travel places and visit sites where no regular accommodation is available. So far, studies on the social network CouchSurfing.org have either concentrated on matters of trust or the portability of online social connections and location information into their offline counterparts (Molz 2011, Rosen et al. 2011, Lauterbach et al. 2009, Pultar & Raubal 2009, Tran 2009). The relationship between CouchSurfer and host however, has caught only little attention so far. Steylaerts & O’Dubhghaill (2011) form a notable exception in this respect, taking the perspective of the traveler who is actively seeking the authentic experience. Likewise, the study at hand looks into the relationship between CouchSurfer and host, and thereby examines the extent by which the host influences the CouchSurfer’s behaviour within the destination. The focal point of the paper is to discover the attitude of hosts towards the own neighbourhood and the CouchSurfer. In particular, the study suggests that hosts are more likely to show and recommend attractions and services that are off the beaten track, i.e. in the Long Tail of tourism. Moreover, we argue that hosts preferably recommend points of interest (POI) in the immediate environment of their home, or services they use on a regular basis. Furthermore, we propose CouchSurfers follow recommendations of the host and thus hosts strongly influence the behaviour of CouchSurfers within the destination.


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The first part of the study explains the theoretical background of Long Tail, looks at the origins of the term, and explains its use in the tourism context. Next, we look into motivation theory, and have a specific look on the issue of travel motivation. We then briefly look at the background and growth of hospitality exchange and online social networking, and further we try to show the implications on travel behaviour today. Thereafter we explain the travel form of CouchSurfing and introduce the online hospitality network CouchSurfing.org, which serves as a practical example in this study. On the platform CouchSurfing.org every user is called a CouchSurfer. For the purpose of this study however, we distinguish between CouchSurfer (or guest) and host, thus using the term only for the person who is traveling and staying at another person’s home. The last point before entering the empirical part of the study is the establishment of theses, which are examined in the paper. The empirical part of the study describes the methodology that is used and explains the set-up of the primary research that was conducted. Further content is the analysis of primary research with the discussion of results, concluded by implications for further research and limitations of the study.


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Theoretical Framework

This chapter introduces the theoretical framework necessary for conducting the study. It is divided into five subsections that lay the foundation for the empirical part of the study. The beginning of the chapter is dedicated to the Long Tail of tourism, which acts as the starting point for this research. We look at the origins of the term and how it is used in the travel and tourism industry. The next section is about motivation theory, where we look at two theoretical models and further, will examine people’s motivation to travel. To conclude the section, we look at a concept that is especially helpful in the context of travel and tourism. The third part addresses the issue of social networks. We briefly look at the history of social networking, and glance at how social networks form. We then move on to the modern understanding of social networks, which is inevitably connected with the Internet and the introduction of online social networks and media. Moreover, this part of the study gives an insight into the impact of online social networks as far as (long distance) communication, getting in touch with other cultures and people, and making new friends are concerned. In this context we will also have a look on the implications on travel behaviour, because the era of Internet and online social networks has done a lot more than simplifying the process of gathering information, but has created new ways of traveling itself. The next sub chapter concentrates on one such new form of traveling, i.e. CouchSurfing. This part explains the concept of CouchSurfing and introduces the platform CouchSurfing.org, which is the largest online social network to promote this way of traveling. We shortly touch upon functionality of the social network, and explain the reason for choosing the users of this platform as subject matter of the study at hand. The final section of the theoretical part combines the sections above to formulate our research questions and the theses, which we examine in the empirical part of the study.


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

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The Long Tail of Tourism

In recent years the idea of Long Tail gained popularity following Anderson’s (2004) publication of “The Long Tail” in Wired Magazine. In the article Anderson shows that the opportunity for making business with moderately popular products increased extraordinarily through internetbased distribution. Anderson states the example of Amazon’s book sales, where more than half of the sales come from outside its 130,000 top book titles. By making use of data on consumer behaviour through sophisticated information technology systems, the concept of Long Tail has a significant impact in e-commerce as one can see with the example above (Anderson 2004). We dedicate the next few paragraphs to the explanation of the concept and what it means for the travel and tourism industry.

2.1.1 Pareto’s Principle & the Long Tail Concept in eCommerce The theory known under the term “Pareto’s principle”, introduced by Joseph M. Juran in the late 1940s as the theory of “the vital few and the trivial many” (Juran 1951), and also referred to as the 80/20 rule, forms the foundation of the Long Tail concept. It is based on Juran’s observation that a vital few causes (≈ 20 %) are responsible for the major part of effects (≈ 80 %), and a trivial many causes (≈ 80 %) are responsible for the minor part of effects (≈ 20 %). The name Pareto’s principle stems from Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who examined the unequal distribution of wealth in Italy in the early 20th century (Reh 2011), which had a similar pattern. Pareto was included in the work of Juran, thereby being mistaken as the originator of the principle (Juran 1975). When applied to economics, the principle suggests that the 20 % top products account for 80 % of the sales, while the “Long Tail” of 80 % accounts for only 20 % of the sales (Lew 2008). The work of Anderson (2004) however, shows that through advanced information technology and sophisticated recommendation mechanisms the Long Tail gains significant importance when it comes to an e-Commerce environment, illustrated by the chart below, which compares Netflix sales of the years 2000 and 2005 (Anderson 2009a).


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Figure 1: The Long Tail of Netflix DVD Sales, retrieved from Anderson (2009a)

The above graph illustrates how the advancement of IT shifts more sales towards the Long Tail, thus reducing the relative share of the top selling products. According to Felfernig et al. (2007) the travel and tourism industry is a major driver for innovation in IT, thus the theory of Long Tail is an interesting field of research for this industry as well.

2.1.2 The Long Tail Concept and Tourism In tourism, Lew (2008) interprets the concept of Long Tail in spatial geographical terms and relates to Central Place Theory, Gravity Model, and Distance Decay. However, the perspective of Lew is limited on the level of destinations with the short head of the “honeypot destination that is widely known and attracts large numbers of visitors” complemented by the long tail in the form of specialty niche destinations. The graph below shows the development of travel from the UK, indicating the falling share of the Top 50 destinations and increase for “everywhere else”.


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Figure 2: The Long Tail of Travel, retrieved from Anderson (2009b)

Nevertheless, when we talk about the Long Tail of Tourism in this study, we add another point of view, i.e. the idea of Long Tail within a single destination. The UNWTO (1993, 2002) defines destination as ‘geographical region that contains all services and infrastructure which is necessary for the stay of a tourist or specific tourism segment for at least one night. The destination is the competitive unit in incoming tourism and therefore an important part of the tourism product’. Taking the city of Paris as an example, the top products are the Eiffel tower, Notre-Dame, the Montmartre, etc. while the Long Tail contains smaller attractions like a café in a side street or restaurants in non-touristy quarters of the city. While the study of consumer behaviour is not new among tourism scholars, the concept of Long Tail has gained momentum only in recent years (Day et al. 2011, Papathanassis 2011, Lew 2008). Papathanassis (2011) suggests that new challenges in tourism industry will arise “when the Long Tail scenario [finally] materializes”. Also, Tintarev et al. (2010) found that personal recommendations have a larger impact on places “off the beaten track”, which is interesting due to their field of study: “mobile recommendations in the tourism domain”.


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Above we explained two different approaches for defining the Long Tail in tourism. In the context of the study at hand we focus on the approach to Long Tail within the destination, because it is useful for determining how hosts introduce a destination to the CouchSurfer and whether they play a significant role in the POIs and attractions visited, as suggested by Tintarev et al. (2010). In the context of CouchSurfing, our research on the Long Tail of tourism therefore concentrates on the level of attractions and services.

2.1.3 The Long Tail Concept as a Form of Add-on Product/Service Another understanding of the concept is that products/services in the Long Tail are seen as a form of add-on product to a core product, thereby covering various side-interests of the consumer. This aspect is illustrated by the recommendation mechanism of Amazon, where recommendations (which are based on user behaviour) are placed at the top selling products, and lead the consumer deeper into the available range of items. Likewise, we suggest that the core motivation of a traveler, say relaxation, does not determine the choice of destination or travel form. Rather, the surrounding attributes and add-ons of a travel product or service narrow down the alternatives for the individual traveler and finally lead to a decision. We have a closer look on this aspect later when we talk about Pearce’ Travel Career Pattern. In the next two chapters we examine different theories of motivation and the concept of customer recommendation in social networks. Thereby we take a closer look on travel motivation and the impact of social networks on the travel decision.


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

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Motivation Theory

Motivation is a core concept in human psychology and the main issue dealt with in motivation theory is answering the questions how people behave and why people behave in that way (Bindra & Stewart 1971). What is motivation, and what factors trigger it? Bindra & Stewart (1971) trace the history of human psychology and accumulate various definitions of motivation that reach from a “moving force, stimulus or motive” over the idea of “voluntary action/behaviour” to the concept of “drive”. A definition by Locke & Latham (2004) also refers to the idea of drive and stimulus and follows a similar line of argument. A quite recent definition by Lahey (2011) includes the important facets of the concept and is short and accurate at once. Lahey defines motivation as “the internal state or condition that activates and gives direction to our thoughts, feelings, and actions”. In the beginning of this chapter we look at concepts of motivation theory that give an insight into why people behave like they do. Motivation is a widely discussed concept and there are several well-established concepts in literature. Possibly the most known theory is the Hierarchy of Needs (Maslow 1943, Maslow 1970, Maslow & Frager 1987) where Maslow arranges human motivation from physiological to self-actualization needs and argues a constitutive approach for motivation. Another approach by Gnoth (1997) describes a motivation construct where internal motives (i.e. emotions, such as drives, feelings, and instincts) and external motives (i.e. cognitions, such as knowledge or beliefs) form the individual’s motivation in combination with the situational context. Further theories on motivation include the Dual-Factor Theory (Herzberg et al. 1959) and the concept of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, which are mainly discussed in work- and education-related issues (Bénabou & Tirole 2003, Covington 2000, Broedling 1977). The idea of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation however, also serves as useful foundation for the discussion on travel motivation that follows later in this chapter. Yet another model by Iso-Ahola (1982) discusses motivation in the two dimensions of seeking and avoiding and the underlying concept of optimal arousal (Mannell & Iso-Ahola 1987). For the theoretical framework of this paper we found the concept of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, and Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs appropriate. Both theories suit well with travel and tourism, as we will see in the later part of the section where we focus on the issue of travel motivation and explore the reasons for why people go on a journey. In doing so, we examine


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the concept of the Travel Career Pattern and the Push & Pull Motivation theory, which cater especially to the travel and tourism industry.

2.2.1 Intrinsic Vs. Extrinsic Motivation The first theory we look into is the concept of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Lahey’s definition above states that motivation is something personal to every individual. However, Lahey does not refer to the intrinsic or extrinsic nature of motivation (Lahey 2011, p. 362-363) when he talks about an “internal state”. According to Lahey, intrinsic motivation occurs “when people are motivated by the inherent nature of the activity, their pleasure of mastering something new, or the natural consequences of the activity” while extrinsic motivation “is motivation that is external to the activity and not an inherent part of it”. Locke & Latham’s (2004) definition is similar, and clearly demarks the idea of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation by stating that “motivation refers to internal factors that impel action and external factors that can act as inducements to action”. Today, the discussion among scholars about intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is concentrating on the issue of self-rewarding activities (intrinsic) vs. external reward for activities (extrinsic) in the context of work and education (Bénabou & Tirole 2003, Covington 2000, Broedling 1977). This is based on the idea that external motivation is synonymous with reward. However, the reward can also affect other people and does not necessarily concern the individual that is motivated to action. For instance part of the reward for certain behaviour can affect another person or group, the public, or say, the environment (Abrams & Brown 1989, Lee & Holden 1999). In this line of thought, social acceptance - “a central drive tied to the most basic needs for survival and reproduction” – can be the reward for the acting individual (Baumeister & Vohs 2007). Further, there is discussion on whether extrinsic motivation conflicts with intrinsic motivation in the sense that it undermines “the individual’s desire to perform the task for its own sake” (Bénabou & Tirole 2003). Also, there is still discussion on whether intrinsic and extrinsic motivation act additive, subtractive or interactive (Broedling 1977). The idea of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation gets clearer in the context of travel motivation and the Push & Pull theory, which we examine later in this chapter.


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2.2.2 Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs We now look at a concept of motivation theory originating from Abraham Maslow. Maslow (1943) looks at motivation from a different viewpoint and examines the nature of motivation by assigning human needs into 5 categories that are known as “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” (see Figure 3 below).

Self-­‐ Actualization   Esteem  Needs   Belongingness  &  Love   Needs   Safety  Needs   Physiological  Needs   Figure 3: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, own depiction based on Maslow & Frager (1987)

In the following paragraphs we shortly introduce the concept behind Maslow’s model and have a glance at the different stages of the pyramid, where we give examples for the needs at the particular stage, which are partially taken from Maslow & Frager (1987). The “starting point for motivation theory” (Maslow & Frager 1987) is the physiological needs, which include satisfaction of wants like hunger, thirst and having shelter. Hence, the model’s form of a pyramid suggests the idea behind the hierarchy of needs, i.e. only when a lower level of need is gratified, the individual moves on to the next stage and seeks fulfillment there. As Maslow & Frager (1987) put it: “a chronically and extremely hungry person … may fairly be said to live by bread alone”. The next level in Maslow’s hierarchy is the safety needs, including the fulfillment of wants like security, stability, dependency, freedom from fear, anxiety, and chaos, need for structure, order, law, etc. (Maslow & Frager 1987). Thus, after meeting the body’s needs for homeostasis, i.e. “a constant, normal state of blood stream”, the individual longs for its own security and being unharmed, both in physiological and mental terms.


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As we have seen, the first two levels of the hierarchy – despite possible differences on the meaning of satisfaction among individuals - concern very general bodily and mental needs. The third stage however is the first that clearly gives attention to the individual and its personal preferences and needs, especially when it comes to the factors of relationship and belonging to a group – this level is called the belongingness and love needs. Establishing new relationships, belonging to a group, or the contact and affection of other people in general are good examples for the motivation on this level of Maslow’s pyramid. The next step in the hierarchy is the esteem needs, which can be divided into the two subsets of self-esteem and esteem from others (Maslow & Frager 1987). While the first group wants to satisfy desires such as strength, achievement, mastery and competence, “confidence in the face of the world”, and independence, the latter aims at gratification through other people such as status, attention, fame and glory, and recognition. To describe it in another way: when a person’s need for relationship, love and belonging in a group is fulfilled, the individual will want to stand out from that group in order to push self-esteem and get recognition. The last level in the hierarchy is the need for self-actualization, which Maslow & Frager (1987) describe as “the desire […] to become everything that one is capable of becoming”. They give the example of “musicians must make music, artists must paint, [and] poets must write to be at peace with themselves”. This definition and its examples essentially say that motivation for following through with a certain activity on this level comes from the activity alone. Thus, we can argue that the last step of Maslow’s hierarchy is somewhat congruent with the concept of intrinsic motivation we discussed earlier. The stepwise model by Maslow is a logical and simple approach (Hsu & Huang 2008) and today is one of the fundamental theories about motivation. However, the hierarchy is not undisputed, especially when it comes to the rigid adherence to the constitutive pyramid structure of needs and the need for belongingness and relationships. Baumeister & Vohs (2007) cite a number of studies, which show that people seek for relationship and belongingness especially when in the face of hunger and danger. Hence, the fulfillment of those needs appears to be unnecessary for gratification of the higher-ranked social need. Even Maslow himself (1970) argues that needs of a higher level may dominate over lower level needs in some situations and it does not take the complete fulfillment of one level in order to seek fulfillment of the next one. Moreover, Hsu & Huang (2008) point out that Maslow himself discusses two other aspects of human needs, i.e. the aesthetic need, and the need for knowing and understanding; both these needs are not included in the hierarchy, but are very interesting from a tourism standpoint.


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2.2.3 Travel Motivation In the previous section we looked at two concepts in motivation theory. For one part, the model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation explains the nature of motivation. For the other part, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs assigns different levels to the fulfillment of needs and thus motivation. In this section we look at the impetus of people that drives them to choose a certain form of traveling. Motivation may not “account for a large portion of the variance in tourist behaviour”(Crompton 1979), nevertheless it is crucial to understand the travel motivation of people in order to comprehend the choices they make when they decide on the form of traveling, or make a choice on the destination. In this part of the study we look at the connection between the general theories of motivation from above with two models that come from tourism research and are useful in the context of this study. One model is the Push & Pull Motivation theory, the other is the Travel Career Pattern, which is partially based on Maslow’s Hierarchy and develops it further, considering two more aspects relevant to travel and tourism. These two models provide additional viewpoints on the issue of travel motivation, along with the two theories introduced earlier. When we introduce the travel form of CouchSurfing later, we also look at factors of destination and accommodation (i.e. host) and examine the importance of those two factors in context of the travel decision. To begin with, we establish a meaning for the term travel motivation. Therefore we have to understand the terms travel and journey in this context. However, this is not a task as easy as it seems at first; like Roberson (2001) points out in the introduction to her essay-collection on Defining Travel, the terms of travel and journey – which are used synonymously - are used in as many ways as one person takes steps each day. The terms are not used simply in a context of tourism, but also in metaphors like “the journey of life”, “it’s going to be a long journey until you reach that goal”, or “you can travel far and reach nowhere”. Thus, the concept of traveling in the human mind represents much more than moving from spot A to spot B. Moreover, traveling – in physical or mental terms – seems to be as much about movement as it is about the activities on the way and at the destination (Roberson 2001). In the framework of tourism, traveling is continuously described as a temporary change of location away from the individual’s usual environment for either leisure or business purposes that includes all activities during this event (Beaver 2005, UNWTO 1995, Hunziker & Krapf


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1942). This definition is suitable for examining people’s reasons for a change of location in a touristic context, and how they behave during these events. Above all, we are interested in the leisure tourism segment - however, we do not seek to actively rule out traveling for business purpose. In fact, the business travel segment only represents a marginal amount among the total CouchSurfing activity (Strommer 2010). Hsu & Huang (2008) state, “travel motivation relates to why people travel”, yet we discussed earlier that apart from the why there is also the question of how. We then defined motivation as “the internal state or condition that activates and gives direction to our thoughts, feelings, and actions” (Lahey 2011). Based on that we define travel motivation as ‘an internal state that directs the thoughts, feelings, and actions about how, and the reason(s) why a person decides on a temporary change of location away from his/her usual environment for the purpose of leisure, including all activities during this event’. Eventually, the two dimensions of how and why lead us to the following three questions: Why do people travel at all? How do people travel? And why do people choose a certain form of traveling? With our definition of travel motivation as a starting point, we conclude that we need to examine the process that goes on inside a person, when s/he decides about traveling. We have to discover the factors that affect the internal state, which in turn influences the thought process, the feelings, and actions of a person. Hence we will get answers to the three questions above. As we have discussed previously, these factors/motivations can be intrinsic and extrinsic in nature. The first issue we discuss is the reason why people travel at all. What is it that makes people want to leave their usual environment and go on a journey? The model of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation seems to be a very suitable model to answer this question. We established earlier that intrinsic motivation leads to a behaviour for the behaviour’s own sake. Thus, the intrinsic motivation for traveling is the task itself – moving from one place to another, going to another place, seeing new things. On the other hand, for the extrinsic motivation to go on a journey we have to examine the factors – or say, rewards – that trigger this behaviour. Whether a person’s motivation for traveling is predominantly intrinsic or extrinsic in nature we have to understand what traveling means for a person, and what kind of need is fulfilled by going on a journey. For this purpose we look at the theories of Travel Career Pattern (TCP) and Push & Pull Motivation. There are other concepts on travel motivation such as Iso-Ahola’s (1982) optimal arousal theory and the allocentric-psychocentric theory by Plog (1974). However, we find the


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models by Iso-Ahola and Plog not useful in the context of this study. By contrast, the TCP is useful because for one part it helps to understand the composition of a person’s travel motivation and for the other part because of its partial foundation on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, which is helpful in the derivation of motivation in general. Likewise, the Push & Pull Motivation Theory is practical for the study at hand, because we find the model fits with the travel form of CouchSurfing, which we introduce later.

2.2.3.1 Travel Career Ladder & Travel Career Pattern In various studies Pearce, Caltabiano, and Moscardo developed the concept of the Travel Career Ladder (TCL) between 1983 and 1993 (Pearce & Lee 2005). To some extent the theory is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Additionally, the concept suggests that people do not only fulfill one need at a time - although “one set of needs … may be dominant” - and that “people’s motivation changes with their travel experience” (Pearce & Lee 2005). An earlier study by Pearce (1982) with focus on Maslow’s Hierarchy already points in the direction of this idea and suggests an approach-avoidance pattern for travel motivation that involves more than one of Maslow’s levels for each dimension. The study finds that people are mostly attracted by the potential fulfillment of physiological needs, the love & belongingness need, and the need for self-actualization. On the other hand people especially avoid destinations where fulfillment of the safety need is at risk, but also the physiological need is a concern here. The figure below shows the TCL as arranged by Pearce (1991), and includes the ideas of ascending the ladder and having more than one motive at a time. By means of the pyramid structure and wording the similarity to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is evident.


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Figure 4: Travel Career Ladder, Source: Pearce 1991.

In their 2005 study Pearce & Lee (2005) argue, “some [people] may predominantly ‘ascend’ the TCL, whereas others may remain at a particular level”, which depends on various factors, such as health and financial considerations, but also contingency. Thus, there are individuals who keep fulfilling the same needs with each holiday, while others show the ascent described by Pearce & Lee and move up the ladder. This part of the model therefore helps to explain the questions of how people travel and why they choose a certain form of traveling. However, we have to keep in mind that need fulfillment is not reduced to a single level, but that there is a dominant need among other needs, and all together form the individual TCL of a person.


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The additions of dominant need and change of (travel) motivation with experience make the model more dynamic than Maslow’s Hierarchy, and while the model was adopted by the commercial sector (Ryan 1998), Pearce & Lee (2005) refined the TCL and propose the term Travel Career Pattern (TCP) to better accommodate the “dynamic, multilevel motivational structure”. The travel career pattern is best conceptualized as a model with three layers (Hsu & Huang 2008) as seen in the figure below. As can be seen, there is still the idea of a Hierarchy – however, the different layers all have the same datum level.

Core Travel Motives Moderately Important Travel Motives Less Important Travel Motives

Figure 5: Travel Career Pattern, own depiction according to Hsu & Huang (2008)

The core travel motives are those that Pearce & Lee (2005) find to be “the most important factors in forming travel reasons”. They identified four key motivations, i.e. escape/relax, novelty, relationship, and self-development, which form the “backbone” for going on a journey – “regardless of one’s travel experience”. The next layer – called the moderately important travel motives (Hsu & Huang 2008) - is a subdivision of how people seek the core motive of selfdevelopment differently according to their travel experience. While people with less travel experience emphasize personal development, individuals with more experience focus on hostsite involvement, e.g. experiencing different cultures and meeting the locals (Pearce & Lee 2005). The outermost layer consists of less important travel motives; those however are common and relatively stable (Hsu & Huang 2008), and include items like nostalgia, isolation, and social status. All three layers together combine to the individual TCP of a person, and like the term “backbone” - used by Pearce & Lee for the core motives - suggests, the overall pattern rather changes with an alteration of less dominant motives than with the transformation of the core travel motive (Pearce & Lee 2005). The examination of TCL and TCP shows the relatedness to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. However, we have seen some major differences that explain its usefulness in the tourism context. First, Maslow’s Hierarchy concentrates on one level at a time and argues a step-by-step approach. In contrast, the TCL/TCP suggest the fulfillment of various needs at a time, thereby


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not neglecting the idea of an ascent on the pyramid/ladder. Second, Maslow’s model argues that a change in motivation comes from fulfilling a level of needs and moving on to the next level. The TCL/TCP on the other hand proposes that a change in motivation comes with the increasing travel experience of a person. Also, the TCL/TCP approach does not consider the idea of fulfillment - it rather talks about varying interests and motivations that come up with more experience. Third, the layer of moderately important motives refers to the way people seek fulfillment of needs and thus offers an explanation of the needs for aesthetics, understanding, and knowing as suggested by Maslow. Generally, we argue along with McNeal (1973), proposing that a person is seeking for equilibrium in the search for fulfillment of (different) needs, which is not equivalent with the satisfaction of needs. In this part we now have expatiated the significance of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in the context of the Travel Career Ladder and Travel Career Pattern. We have seen that arranging motivational factors into sequenced levels of needs is only useful to some extend. Thus in the context of travel and tourism the TCP is practical, as it allows the illustration of seeking and fulfilling more than one need at a time, while providing a distinction between core, moderately important, and less important motives.

2.2.3.2 Push and Pull Motivation The next model we discuss is the Push & Pull Motivation theory. The concept caters especially to destinations, and can also be applied to smaller entities within the destination. The idea is based on anthropological as well as socio-psychological backgrounds as pointed out by Yoon & Uysal (2005). Anthropologists say that “tourists are motivated to escape the routine of everyday life”, and “seek authentic experiences”, while sociologists state that motivation has two dimensions that are referred to as “seeking” and “avoiding” (Iso-Ahola 1982). Dann (1977, 1981) closely examines the concept in a tourism context and indicates “some forces” or factors that push and pull people to travel. Crompton (1979) argues that motives are either socio-psychological or cultural in nature, and that the latter refer to pull motivation “at least partially aroused by the particular qualities that a destination [offers]”, while the sociopsychological motives refer to push motives and “were found to be unrelated to destination attributes”. Likewise, Yoon & Uysal (2005) state that push factors are responsible for driving a person to make a travel decision, while the pull factors are destination attributes that are accountable for attracting the individual.


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As we have seen, scholars suggest a classification where push factors are responsible for the travel decision while the pull factors are the motives for choice of destination. However, Crompton (1979) argues “socio-psychological motives … may also have directive potential to direct the tourist toward a particular destination”. Gnoth (1997) words it another way: “push factors … are internally generated drives causing the tourist to search for signs in objects … that contain the promise of reducing prevalent drives”, while the pull factors are “generated by the knowledge about goal attributes the tourists holds”. This means the tourist on the one hand is seeking fulfillment of personal stimuli and needs while on the other hand searching for a provider that has the ability of catering to those needs. Further, it implicates that the sociopsychological push motives also have an impact on the choice of destination. We now take a short glance at the push factors. Crompton (1979) identified seven sociopsychological factors, namely: escape from a perceived mundane environment, exploration and evaluation of self, relaxation, prestige, regression, enhancement of kinship relationships, and facilitation of social interaction. For example, three major push factors found by Yoon & Uysal (2005) in their study on tourists in Northern Cyprus are relaxation, family togetherness, and safety & fun. In another example, Zhang and Lam (1999) analysed push and pull motivations of Mainland Chinese visitors to Hong Kong. They found knowledge, prestige, and enhancement of human relationship to be the dominant push factors for Chinese travelers. As we see from the two examples, push forces are specific to the particular setting and traveler segment in the studies. Therefore it is fair to expect that the most significant factors differ according to the type of traveler examined. The pull factors on the other hand are concerned with attributes of the destination that attract the tourist to go to a certain location. Crompton (1979) termed them “cultural” and named the two factors of novelty and education as pull forces. The study of Yoon & Uysal (2005) finds that “small size & reliable weather”, “cleanness & shopping”, and “nightlife and local cuisine” are the prominent pull forces in the Northern Cyprus setting. Zhang & Lam (1999) find hi-tech image, expenditure, and accessibility to be the most prominent pull forces in their study on Chinese visitors to Hong Kong. Again we see that the factors are specific to each setting and that the most significant items are very likely to differ in different destinations and among various types of travelers.


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2.2.3.3 Spending Motivation We have examined two different models for travel motivation above. However, there is one more question regarding travel motivation, which is not represented in the above models but is of substance in the context of this study, i.e. the traveler’s willingness to spend money for the different items along the tourism service chain. When we introduce the concept of CouchSurfing later, it becomes obvious that budget is a crucial item. Studies on budget and spending mostly concentrate on time-budget issues (Pearce 1988, Mokhtarian & Chen 2004), and research on social and economic background of travelers (Loker-Murphy & Pearce 1995). Yet other research concentrates on differences among source markets (Divisekera 2010). Economic and social background play a key role in tourism, as for one part they enable people to travel at all, and for the other part they influence the form of traveling of the individual. Loker-Murphy & Pearce (1995) illustrate this idea with the origins of the modern youth and backpacker tourism. Further, constraints in travel budget place the question which items of the service chain the traveler compromises on and where s/he spends less money. The essence of this question becomes clearer in the context of CouchSurfing, which we introduce in chapter 2.4. Also, we examine this issue in the empirical part of the study. The next section of the paper deals with the formation of social networks and how the Internet and online social media affect travel behaviour. In this context we also look at the concept of customer recommendation and word-of-mouth (WOM).


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Social Networks & Travel Behaviour

There is no doubt that social networks have a great influence on people’s behaviour. Not least, success in business depends on network effects, and especially in the Internet era and the rise of global online networks social and professional networks gain in importance. Facebook, Xing, LinkedIn, Google+, and Twitter are only few of the examples in the social network sphere, and while some (Xing, LinkedIn) focus on a certain area of networking, others (Facebook) try to incorporate as many features as possible – presumably with the intention to form a platform that provides each and every service and thus is able to collect data about the entire online behaviour of users. Also, the question arises what motivates people to join online social networks and share personal information. In this chapter of the study we throw light on these issues, and look at the history of social networks, both in an offline context, and also in terms of the Internet era and online social media. Further, we will examine the way social networks impact on the decision making process in traveling through WOM and recommendation, and thus the effect on travel behaviour.

2.3.1 History of Social Networks Today, in a discussion on social networks probably 9 out of 10 people are tempted to mention “Facebook” within the first sentence. However, social networking has a history that is as old as mankind itself, which is no surprise – humans being gregarious animals (McKenzie 1924). Studies show that social networks have always been an important issue. Analyses of early societies and social networks focus on the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, and Greece (Bryant 1996, Donlan 1985, Thapar 1978), and later also on the networks among the first Christian communities (Chow 1992). Other writings elaborate on social networks in medieval England (Polden 2006) and Flanders (Vanderputten 2010). Also, LokerMurphy & Pearce (1995) stress the importance of guilds as the networks of traveling craftsmen and establish the connection to modern youth tourism and backpacking. Apart from history, studies on social networks focus on the nature, formation, and the benefits, and how people interact within the network. Jackson & Watts (2002) for example view “network formation as a dynamic process” where individuals establish and break connections with each other based on the (perceived) benefits “the resulting network offers them relative to


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the current network”. This definition reflects the essence of social networks: being in a social network at/for a certain time must offer a benefit for the individual – otherwise the individual breaks ties to the network and establishes new connections with another. The most common form of social networks obviously is family, and the circle of friends. Further, (sports) clubs stand for another type of (organized) social network. In an extended meaning the term social network is also valid for a group of people that (more or less) regularly meets at the same location, e.g. regular customers at a bar or skiers in the terrain park on a mountain. Kawachi & Berkman (2001) call such participation “weak ties”, but nonetheless assert a “sense of belongingness and social identity”. We see that social networks are not a new phenomenon and the core reason for participation is a benefit for the individual. Moreover, there are different forms of organization that may be preordained (family) or freely chosen (friends, sports clubs, etc.). Also, social networks are important in the sense of belonging to a group and knowing about likeminded people. In the next part we look into the meaning of social networking in the context of Internet and online social media.

2.3.2 The Internet & Online Social Media The Internet era has given a new meaning to the term social networking, not only in terms of easier and faster communication, but also regarding the formation and interaction of a global crowd. Wang et al. (2002) and Molz (2011) stress that location and community have a strong link throughout history and despite the difficulty of perceiving “cyberspace as a place”, “[it] has a geography, a nature, and a rule of human law” where the user “indeed can ‘live’ or ‘die’ as he will” (Benedikt 1991). Thus, the Internet (i.e. cyberspace) and the network & community technologies building on it are the reference point for “place” when it comes to online social networks. The first form of online networking occurred through address books in webmail – at least from an egocentric perspective (Kawachi & Berkman 2001). Eventually the invention of the online guestbook gave users the opportunity to share their opinion online – however still limited to a given input/story by the provider of the website. Some users eventually employed guestbooks for communicating with each other rather than commenting on the content of the site, while at the same time the creation of online forums facilitated real discussion, collaboration, and interaction (Kanuka & Anderson 1998). User forums in particular - together with blogs and


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podcasts - represented the first possibilities for user-generated content (UGC) and built the foundation for Web 2.0 (Utz 2007). These technologies also featured voting mechanisms and possibilities to share content with other people – at that time by sending an invitation or recommendation to a friend’s email address. However, UGC and online forums created online communities rather than social networks and concentrated on specific topics thereby connecting people with similar interest rather than similar network (Wang et al. 2002). By contrast, today’s online social media focus on connections and relationships among the various users, and are based on “diffuse networks of people and technologies” (Molz 2011). Launched in 2003, MySpace marks the beginning of today’s social networking of the masses. MySpace was one of the first social networks that allowed to connect with friends directly while also providing the opportunity to create own content via blog, photo uploads, and embedding of videos. Moreover, MySpace allowed the customization of the personal profile, enabling millions of users to express themselves online, a feature that earlier was reserved for tech-savvy individuals who were able to design their own website. Generally, social/user-generated media encompass “media impressions created by consumers, typically informed by relevant experience, and archived or shared online for easy access by other impressionable consumers” (Blackshaw 2006). However, MySpace failed to develop its offer in essential ways, despite other companies benefitting from its large user base (Rosmarin 2006). Thus, Facebook took over as the new leader in social networking. The competitive advantage of Facebook is seen in the continuous development of the site – sometimes to the annoyance of users. However, todays largest social network has managed to incorporate new features and services, such as video and picture tagging, an application developer platform, online gaming, user-targeted advertisements, and has even managed to incorporate content from other websites through the “Like” button. David Kirkpatrick – author of The Facebook Effect - in an interview emphasizes the importance of continuous innovation, yet he suggests two other important factors for Facebook’s success, i.e. the foundation on the “genuine identity” of its users and the simplicity of the site (ZDNet 2010). Hence, Facebook managed to grow its user base, despite constant concerns about protection of user privacy and a solid business model. By May 2012 Facebook claimed to have more than 900 million users (Facebook 2012), being more than 12 % of the World’s population (Internet World Stats 2012), and although – or perhaps because of - the platform offers “everything for everybody” there are several other successful social networks that cater to specific target groups or niches. A prominent example is


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Twitter, offering the possibility to post and subscribe to short, instant updates. Other popular sites are Xing and LinkedIn, two platforms with focus on connecting and creating professional networks. In tourism and hospitality industry TripAdvisor.com and HolidayCheck.com are well-known examples when it comes to UGC and social communities. These two examples serve as travel information sites where people share their travel experience and search for recommendations on sights, accommodation, and destinations. The main features include the evaluation of touristic products and services and sharing the own opinion about and experience with them. Popular social networks for travelers also include WAYN (Where Are You Now – www.wayn.com) and TravBuddy (www.travbuddy.com) - both with the goal to share travel experiences and connect travelers, whereby WAYN focuses on people who want to meet others at their current location, and TravBuddy aims for connecting people who want to go on a trip together. Yet another form of social networks for traveling is the so-called hospitality exchange websites such as Be Welcome (www.bewelcome.org), Global Freeloaders (www.globalfreeloaders.com), and CouchSurfing (www.couchsurfing.org). In contrast to home exchange networks - where consumers travel to each other’s place simultaneously, and thus only exchange their physical environment (Grit 2011) – hospitality exchange networks revolve around the idea of establishing offline social connections (Strommer 2010). The key issue is to provide or find a place to stay with likeminded people (Steylaerts & O’Dubhghaill 2011). The aspect of meeting people “offline” and creating real-world social contacts is also the major difference between hospitality networks and other social networks. In chapter 2.4 we look closer on this kind of network. In the following paragraphs however, we will examine the motivation for participating in online social networks, and have a brief look on online travel networks. Thereafter we look into the effects of these networks on travel and recommendation behaviour.

2.3.3 The Motivation to Participate in Online Social Media We noted earlier that practically speaking, one out of eight people in the world has a profile on Facebook – but what is the motivation for having a profile in an online social network? Why do people give up part of their privacy and give away personal information to corporations? Dwyer et al. (2007) note, “the root motivation is communication and maintaining relationships”, and Valkenburg et al. (2006) stress, “the primary aim is to encourage members to establish and maintain a network of friends”. Both these statements relate to the third level of Maslow’s


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Hierarchy. Nevertheless, this does not imply the need for a user profile in an online social network – people can simply talk to each other. However, the globalization of relationships validates this core motivation to some extent. Wellman (1997) – already anticipating today’s scope of social networking and the ever growing connectedness - puts it this way: “although the world is not a global village, one’s ‘village’ can span the globe”. Around the central motive of communication and maintaining relationships revolves a number of activities that may be as important for social networking, considering that the central objectives could also be met by writing e-mails. Dwyer et al. (2007) list “updating others”, “sharing photos and archiving events”, “getting updates”, and “sending messages privately” as some of the most important activities. Moreover, they mention “displaying a large social network”, “presenting an idealized persona”, and “posting public testimonials”. This shows that the idea of self-expression – which relates to the fourth level in the Hierarchy of Needs - is important for many users. Richter & Koch (2008) add another important aspect, i.e. the search for experts, which is significant in the context of this study, as we will show later. They note that the functionality of social networks enables users to update their personal and professional (or expert) information - thus the network adds value to online “Yellow Pages” applications. Moreover, the ability to edit information is an additional motivation for the user to contribute information (Richter & Koch 2008). As we see from the above, UGC is the foundation of social media, and because consumers value information and recommendation that come from other consumers – i.e. word-of-mouth (WOM), websites like TripAdvisor get increasing traffic and contributions. In an online context the term electronic Word of Mouth (eWOM) is used, and Sun et al. (2006) attest that “compared to traditional WOM, online WOM is more influential due to its speed, convenience, one-to-many reach, and its absence of face-to-face human pressure.” Logically, the positive feeling about receiving advice even increases when the user personally knows the author/source of the recommendation (Siebert 2011). In a tourism context, Xiang & Gretzel (2010) show that search engines act as “gateway” to travel information where “social media constitute a substantial part of the search results, indicating that search engines likely direct travelers to social media sites”. Hence, consumers access travel social media and inform themselves, while only a fraction - 11 % according to a study by Bronner & De Hoog (2011) – contribute their own experience, thereby fuelling the growth of the social network. The motives for participating in social networks for traveling base on the same activities considered important in general for social networking, and are predominantly social or hedonic


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in nature (Wang & Fesenmaier 2004). Updating others and getting updates is essential in travel networks in terms of getting the most recent information about a destination or touristic attraction. Also, the issue of self-expression and giving testimonials is present through showing own accomplishments in the form of travel reports. When it comes to contribution Wang & Fesenmaier (2004) find efficacy to be the most important motive, followed by “possibility of future reciprocation” and an instrumental motivation such as “community members can receive rewards for making constructive contributions”. Moreover, the motivation to connect with likeminded people is evident in networks like CouchSurfing or WAYN and is a key purpose for the websites’ operation (CouchSurfing.org 2012a, WAYN 2012). In the next part of this paper we look at what we call the New Travel Behaviour and the role customer recommendation plays in this context. We examine the impact of online social media and eWOM and have a look on how they change travel behaviour.

2.3.4 Customer Recommendation & The New Travel Behaviour In the previous part we discovered that users are directed towards travel social media - be it through personal connections in other social networks or through the results of search engines. The Internet can provide highly tailored content and for travelers has become one of the most effective ways to get information and book a vacation (Pan & Fesenmaier 2006). TripAdvisor.com, one of the largest social media sites in travel, boasts more than 50 million unique monthly visitors and over 60 million reviews and opinions (TripAdvisor.com 2012). Goodman (2011) states that half of the growth in travel season search comes from travel info sites like TripAdvisor, which eventually increased traffic to Expedia Inc. by 7 % in June 2011 compared to the previous month (ComScore 2011). Further, Goodman indicates a 10-percentincrease year-over-year for June 2011 regarding clicks to travel sites from the major search engines, reaching almost 272 million – of which almost 18 % are paid clicks. These numbers show that the travel industry is not only a good stroke of business for providers of tourism products but also for search engines and travel info sites. The popularity of travel info sites comes from UGC, which makes them the initial contact point for travelers who search for advice and information (Goodman 2011). User behaviour suggests that consumers visit travel info sites and social media especially in the early phase of planning their trip, while they stick to specific brands later in the purchase process (Goodman 2011).


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Concerning the undecided traveler, this means that information and advice in travel social media becomes even more important as their perception about trustworthy brands is formed by reviews and recommendation of other users in the pre-purchase phase (Chen et al. 2008). The continuing run on user-generated recommendations and ratings in social networks further suggests that consumers want to get advice and information from like-minded people - and if possible, from people they know personally. This fact to some extent explains the increasing number of consumers who own a profile on hospitality exchange networks and sites like WAYN.com and TravBuddy.com. Users want more than information about a destination or attraction - if possible they want to meet a local who helps them find their way around.

2.3.4.1 Customer Recommendation & Word-of-Mouth For examining the impact of customer recommendation we need to define the term and understand the concept, as it plays an important role in shaping consumer behaviour (Tintarev et al. 2010, East et al. 2008, Nelson 1970). Garnefeld (2008) defines customer recommendation as ‘information, evaluation, and an implied or explicit recommendation for action concerning the attributes of a supplier or a supplier service, which is communicated through personal conversation or any other communication channel to one ore more (potential) customers, and initiated by either the sender, receiver or supplier’1. Garnefeld’s definition thereby implies that the supplier of a product/service can also be the initiator of the recommendation, for example by asking satisfied customers to recommend the business to others. Chen et al. (2008) present a conceptual framework, which suggests that costumer recommendation results from customer satisfaction, which is similar to a flow experience and is influenced by perceived value and perceived service characteristics. Based on these definitions we describe customer recommendation as “the communicated information and evaluation about a product or service that is influenced by perceived value and service characteristics”. Garnefeld (2008) also illustrates the process of customer recommendation as seen in Figure 6 below, showing that the potential effect of the recommendation depends on the receiver only.

1 Garnefeld (2008, p. 9) „Durch einen Kunden im persönlichen Gespräch oder über andere Kommunikationskanäle an einen oder mehrere (potenzielle) Kunden abgegebene Information, Bewertung, und implizite oder explizite Handlungsempfehlung bezüglich der Merkmale eines Anbieters oder einer Anbieterleistung, die von Sender-, Empfänger- oder Anbieterseite initiiert wird”.


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This aspect is another key element in this study, because the action carried out by the CouchSurfer allows for concluding about the impact created by the host’s recommendation.

1) Sender = customer

2) Information + Evaluation + implied/explicit recommendation for action

4) Receiver = (potential) customer

3) Personal/other communication channel

5) Effect

Figure 6: The Process of Customer Recommendation - adapted from Garnefeld (2008, p. 10)

The increased interest of scholars and marketers and the formation of organizations such as the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) show the great potential and importance ascribed to customer-to-customer interaction, customer engagement and customer recommendation (Libai et al. 2010, Van Doorn et al. 2010, Verhoef et al. 2010). The majority of studies concentrate on customer satisfaction and loyalty and their implication on customer retention and recommendation (Keiningham et al. 2007, Hui et al. 2006). Further, Reichheld (2003) examines the satisfaction-recommendation paradigm from an inverted viewpoint and states that the willingness to recommend implies a high level of customer satisfaction. He finds that ‘recommendations to friends and peers directly correlate with differences in growth rates among competitors’. In travel and tourism industry – being a high-contact service industry - customer recommendation and WOM play an important role as well (Litvin et al. 2008). A study by Tintarev et al. (2010) on mobile devices shows that recommendation plays a key role for both, very popular POIs as well as for POIs off the beaten track, whereby the recommendation for the latter should be personalized. Thus, CouchSurfing hosts are an interesting object of study regarding WOM.


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In a destination context we think of the residents as the customers with the largest customer lifetime value as they constantly spend money within the destination. Hence, locals are also the most knowledgeable about the destination and the services on-site, thereby taking the role of the experienced customer having the greatest expertise about the destination (Xingyuan et al. 2010). Nevertheless, the function as expert/advisor must not be formalized – say, in the way of employment for the destination – because customers tend to “[use] WOM information sources … perceived to be independent” as Lloyd et al. (2011) state in their study on WOM from crew members on cruise ships. In this line of thought we argue that CouchSurfing hosts are perceived as credible source of information because the role as advisor or guide within the destination is not formalized. Young et al. (2007) contribute to the discussion on hosts through their research on the Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFR) travel segment, and state that “such residents usually find themselves acting like tour guides, making suggestions regarding the activities that visiting friends and family members should participate in, and warning them about the places to avoid”. This is also a characteristic we attribute to CouchSurfing hosts, as they act as the local guide for the CouchSurfer. Also, the relationship with the guest usually is closer than with a commercial host, e.g. a hotel. Further, Young et al. (2007) refer to the fact that hosts of VFRs often join those in their activities, thereby “[acting] like tourists in their own backyards”. CouchSurfing hosts also seem to show this behavioural pattern and we elaborate further on this issue in the empirical part of the study.

2.3.4.2 Measurement of Customer Recommendation In the introduction we laid out the purpose of this study with the examination of the relationship between CouchSurfer and host and the role of the latter’s recommendation in the behaviour of the CouchSurfer within the destination. In order to do so, we have to look at methods for measuring customer recommendation. We introduced the concept of Long Tail in the e-Commerce setting, where measurement of recommendation efficiency plays a substantial role for the steady improvement of the service, and platforms like amazon.com contribute to increased popularity and development of such (Felfernig et al. 2007). However, recommendation on amazon.com and similar platforms are not necessarily based on customer recommendation but on the user behaviour and purchase activity on the platform. Moreover, tracking and measuring recommendation efficiency is a much easier


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task online – adequate technology presupposed – than offline, where it is not possible to place a cookie with the recommendation and see whether the recipient follows or not. Although CouchSurfing.org is an online social network, the recommendation activity we want to capture derives from offline interaction of the users and thus cannot be measured electronically. Lloyd et al. (2011) in their study measure the efficiency by comparing the recommendations that are pronounced with the actions performed by the recipients. With this method Lloyd et al. collect a sample to measure the types of recommendation on the one hand and analyze the use by the receivers on the other hand. We deem this approach useful, because it allows for showing the differences in perception about the usefulness of information between the pronouncer and the recipient. Another aspect regarding recommendations from hosts is whether they come from personal experience. We stated earlier that CouchSurfing hosts behave similar to hosts of VFRs, in the sense that they join their guests for activities. In this line of thought we argue that CouchSurfing hosts together with their guests are likely to use services in their own destination, which they did not use before. The empiricism of this study will deal with this aspect in more detail.


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2.4

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CouchSurfing – A New Form of Traveling?

The concept of CouchSurfing is still a young one, only made possible by the mass commercialization of Internet and establishment of online social networks. However, the underlying concept of hospitality exchange itself is not as new. Thus, before we look at CouchSurfing itself, we shortly introduce the concept of hospitality exchange. CouchSurfing is a young form of traveling still in its infant years, while the idea of hospitality exchange is much older and in this sense can be regarded as the grandparent. In 1949 Bob Lutweiler founded Servas International, which can be regarded as the prototype of a hospitality exchange network. The idea of Lutweiler was a non-profit organization to “build understanding, tolerance and world peace” (Servas.org 2012a), that articulates its mission for social and international understanding. To become a Servas traveler today it is still necessary to apply with a local representative of the organization who will interview the applicant (Servas.org 2012b). This procedure explains the relatively small community of Servas travelers, altogether numbering approximately 15,000 members (Servas.org 2012c). In the previous section we described the history of social networking and explained the impact of the Internet on its development. Hospitality networks – being a form of social network – have benefited from the technological advancement and the developments regarding Web 2.0 and social media. In the course of these developments online hospitality networks like CouchSurfing.org, Hospitality Club (www.hospitalityclub.org), and Global Freeloaders gained in popularity quickly. Despite various differences the basic service of hospitality networks is to connect people who search for and offer accommodation services to each other. The idea is to stay at the place of another person without payment, and thereby get to know the local culture and gain an understanding for other social norms and procedures. Each of the aforementioned platforms puts great emphasis on the social component and cultural exchange, as these are regarded crucial for a functioning network. When we talk about CouchSurfing as a new form of traveling we also need to discuss whether hospitality exchange represents a totally new form of traveling. In fact, hospitality exchange and thus CouchSurfing, primarily affect the accommodation component of traveling. Strommer


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(2010) poses the question if CouchSurfers think of themselves as “normal” tourists and finds that they do not generally refuse the term “tourist”, but rather distinguish themselves from specific travel forms such as pre-arranged package holidays and city tours. Strommer also states that CouchSurfers even so pursue tourist activities such as sightseeing, and concludes that “CouchSurfers are tourists and CouchSurfers are not tourists”2 at the same time. He finds despite similarities, CouchSurfing goes beyond other forms of tourism, because the strong focus on interaction with the host adds to the mere tourist experience3. Hence, according to the above we suggest that CouchSurfing is a new form of traveling, especially when it comes to the aspects of accommodation and host-site involvement. We have seen that interaction with the host is an important feature of hospitality networks. Thus, the impact of the host-guest relation on the use of tourist services needs to be examined in the context of online hospitality networks. In the next part we briefly introduce the platform CouchSurfing.org, which is the reference point for the empirical part of the study.

2.4.1 CouchSurfing.org CouchSurfing.org is a social networking platform founded in 2004 by Casey Fenton and has grown to more than 4.5 million members since then (CouchSurfing.org 2012b). Fenton got the idea already in 1998 when he had bought a ticket to Iceland, but had no accommodation. Eventually he wrote emails to more than 1,000 students asking if he could sleep on their couch, getting a lot of positive response of students who offered a place to stay and to experience “their” Reykjavik (Jeong 2005). The core service offered by the platform is to connect travelers who are searching for a place to stay or want to be a host to travelers. In addition, the platform allows for the creation of groups, where specific topics can be discussed. CouchSurfing is by far the largest hospitality exchange network online, representing more than 90,000 cities in 207 unique countries, and exceeding 360 languages (CouchSurfing.org 2012b). The vision is similar to Lutweiler’s formulation for Servas International and states “A world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter“. For joining the social network, CouchSurfing.org requires the user to provide basic

2 Strommer (2010, p. 130): „Zusammengefasst kann also gesagt werden, CouchSurfer sind Touristen und CouchSurfer sind keine Touristen“ 3 Strommer (2010, p. 131): „Insgesamt geht CouchSurfing mit Sicherheit über touristische Interessen hinaus, da durch die Fokussierung auf die Interaktion auch Bekanntschaften in der eigenen Stadt gefördert werden, sonstige Optionen, wie zum Beispiel Meinungsaustausch im Internet, ermöglicht werden oder bei längeren Aufenthalten an anderen Orten, zum Beispiel bei einem Auslandssemester, auf diese Weise leichter sozialer Anschluss gefunden werden kann.“


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information such as name, age, and place. However, only profiles with additional information about hobbies, preferences, CouchSurfing experience, etc. catch the attention of other users. There are also a variety of safety features, such as location verification, a vouching system (people who know each other well can vouch for each other), and personal references, which are publicly visible on the user profile. Moreover, all communication via the website is stored for safety reasons. Issues of trust and the transfer of online connections into offline social contacts have been discussed in various studies (Germann Molz & Gibson 2007, Lauterbach et al. 2009, Tran 2009, Rosen et al. 2011) and the extensive safety features of CouchSurfing.org have added to its success. Another reason contributing to the success of the platform is the fact that reciprocity is not a requirement (Vaicekauskas 2010). This means that individuals who surf are not obligated to host other CouchSurfers – not even the ones they surfed with. However, Lauterbach et al. (2009) show “that the activity on CouchSurfing shows a great deal of direct and generalized reciprocity”. They also find that users “are equally likely to surf or host initially” and those with more than 10 CouchSurfing experiences usually have done both, surfed and hosted (p. 349). An important point of distinction between the hosts of hospitality networks and other forms of accommodation is the concept of location: hotels in general are located near POIs and other attractions - rather than being the attraction themselves. Exceptions such as high-end, allinclusive resorts, and outstanding architectural buildings like the Burj Al Arab in Dubai prove that rule, although part of their attractiveness still stems from their location. CouchSurfing hosts however, can be found in remote areas, suburbs, and non-touristy areas (see Figure 7 below), despite their availability also near tourist attractions. Earlier, we laid out the interest of this study with the examination of the travel behaviour of CouchSurfers in the living environment of the respective host in a tourism context. The very aspect that hosts are also found in non-touristy areas makes CouchSurfers an interesting study object for the concept of Long Tail tourism. Before we introduce this idea we briefly look at previous studies that concern the motivation of CouchSurfers to choose this form of traveling.


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Figure 7: CouchSurfer Map, Source: CouchSurfing.org (2012c)

2.4.2 The Motivation of CouchSurfers We previously discussed the difficulty to assign the label “tourist” to CouchSurfers, because of the different core motivation for this form of traveling. Despite the stronger focus on interaction and building relationships however, CouchSurfers do show very similar motivations to “normal” tourists (Strommer 2010, p. 22, p. 125 ff.). Tourists are in search for “authenticity [that] connotes traditional culture and origin, a sense of the genuine, the real or the unique” (Sharpley 1994) and Steylaerts & O’Dubhghaill (2011) state the LATTE factor as a foundation for the motivation of CouchSurfers and similar travel forms. LATTE stands for local-authentictraceable-trustworthy-and-ethical. Steylaerts & O’Dubhghaill emphasize the “necessity of experiencing and sharing moments with local people under the rubric of authenticity” that guides this type of travel consumer. Further, Wang (1999) notes the requirement to distinguish between toured objects and tourist experiences, i.e. authentic experiences, which “are often confused as one”. The latter again seems to reflect the core motivation of CouchSurfers – creating social connections and experiencing a different culture. Pietilä (2011) concentrates on the motivation for hosting and shows that for hosting both, extrinsic (e.g. for social and cultural exchange) and intrinsic (e.g. “to get experience in Couchsurfing” and help building the global community) motivation play significant roles, and that the cultural factor seems to be the most important, followed by self-development, and


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community & social factors. Further, Pietilä (2011) shows that being a good host, and providing a place to stay for others without any further intentions also serve as motivation for hosts. In terms of Pearce’s TCP we find the core motivations of relationship and self-development valid for CouchSurfers. Further, the TCP suggests that travelers focusing on host-site involvement do have more travel experience. Thus, in the empirical part we examine whether greater travel experience results in an increased likelihood to CouchSurf. In terms of Push and Pull motivation the CouchSurfer’s inner drives are factors such as experiencing something new and a need for a change in the social environment as expressed by the studies of Hollinger et al. (2009) and Strommer (2010). We consider these to be also valid push forces from the viewpoint of the host – supported by the study of Pietilä (2011) where respondents confirm that they host “to have cultural exchange with the guest”, “to have meaningful conversations”, and for “making new friends”. The pull factors on the other hand are concerned with the attributes of the destination that attract the tourist to go to a certain location. We noted above that a substantial part of the CouchSurfing experience stems from social interaction. This indicates that the CouchSurfer also considers the social and cultural qualities of a potential host rather than only the destination attributes. Thus, we suggest dividing the pull forces into two categories. First, similar to the study by Yoon & Uysal (2005), there are destination attributes that attract CouchSurfers, and second, there are “host attributes” that attract CouchSurfers to a particular host they are choosing. While the prior attributes are related to the travel destination per se, the latter constitute of the CouchSurfers’ interests, where they think to match the interests of a potential host or which are interesting to explore. Moreover, common interests and reading the other person’s profile are considered to be crucial for CouchSurfers (Strommer 2010, CouchSurfing.org 2012d). Earlier we stated the needs of “new experience” and “change in social environment” serve as push factors. The particular culture and social environment of a host however, can finally be the pull force and determinant for choosing among potential hosts – the same is also true regarding the CouchSurfer. The empirical part of the study further elaborates on dominant push and pull factors for CouchSurfers and hosts. In chapter 2.2.3.3 we briefly discussed the traveler’s willingness for spending money on the various items in the tourism value chain. The characteristics of hospitality exchange indicate that saving money also serves as motivation for the travel form of CouchSurfing. However, we proposed that the social and cultural component act as major motivations, while the monetary item is rather a motivational factor for traveling at all than for choosing this form of traveling


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(Strommer 2010, p. 135). In the empirical part of the study we put the issue of spending into context with recommendation. We are interested whether hosts recommend and CouchSurfers ask for services and attractions that cost little money or are for free, based on the assumption that CouchSurfers do not want to spend a lot of money in general. In the final part of the theoretical framework we now look at the questions raised and formulate the hypotheses for the examination in the empirical part of the study.


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Research Questions & Theses: CouchSurfers and the Long Tail

The prior sections provided the theoretical background of the study and show the gap in research regarding the host-guest relation in the context of hospitality networks. We discussed several issues and raised questions, which are left unanswered. We introduced the concept of Long Tail, and the objective of the paper at hand, which is the examination of this phenomenon in the context of hosts and CouchSurfers within the hospitality network CouchSurfing.org, which is the main reference point of the study. Thereby, we are interested in WOM and recommendations by hosts, their effect on the CouchSurfers, and thus the impact created in a destination. In the following paragraphs we formulate theses about CouchSurfers and hosts, and their motivation for and behaviour when interacting with each other. First, we examined different theories of motivation and had a look into travel motivation, in order to fully understand the behaviour executed by CouchSurfers. We have examined studies that argue CouchSurfers seek a culturally different experience and are in search for something new. Also, they want to distinguish themselves from other forms of traveling. Thus, we raise the question whether CouchSurfers support the Long Tail of tourism through their behaviour within a destination, and formulate the first thesis: Thesis 1:

CouchSurfers are likely to visit attractions and collect experience off the beaten track, i.e. in the Long Tail of tourism.

Next, we stated that the socio-cultural component plays an important role for the travel form. However, there is no research so far that concentrates on the interaction of hosts and CouchSurfers and whether recommendation and “insider tips� are a source of motivation for this travel form. Thus the next two theses read: Thesis 2:

CouchSurfers prefer this form of traveling because they get to know the local people and culture.

Thesis 3:

CouchSurfers prefer this form of traveling because of the insider knowledge and special recommendations they get.

A third issue that becomes evident when we talk about recommendation from hosts to CouchSurfing is the relationship component. Here, the question arises if CouchSurfers search for hosts who share their interest and if hosts do so respectively. Thus, the next two theses are:


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

Thesis 4:

CouchSurfers search for a host with similar interest to their own.

Thesis 5:

Hosts prefer to host CouchSurfers with similar interests to their own.

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Further, we found that CouchSurfers do have relationships with their hosts that bear more meaning than in a commercial setting, say a hotel. Through this stronger focus on interaction and social exchange the question arises what kind of influence the host exerts on the CouchSurfer by giving recommendations. Thus, the next thesis is: Thesis 6:

Recommendations by the host have a strong impact on the travel behaviour of the CouchSurfer within the destination.

In the context of recommendation and shared interests of host and CouchSurfer another question comes up, i.e. whether hosts recommend services and attractions that they are interested in themselves, and whether they only recommend things they have an own experience with. Thus, the next two theses are: Thesis 7:

Hosts give recommendations based on their own interest.

Thesis 8:

Hosts only give recommendations based on own experience.

Another issue comes up when we combine recommendation by host with the CouchSurfers’ search for new experience and things that are culturally different. Here, the question arises whether the CouchSurfer asks for and the host recommends attractions and services rather in the Long Tail of tourism. Thus, the theses are as follows: Thesis 9:

Hosts are likely to recommend attractions and services off the beaten track, i.e. in the Long Tail of tourism.

Thesis 10:

CouchSurfers are likely to ask for attractions and services off the beaten track, i.e. in the Long Tail of tourism.

Also, we stated that hosts are likely to spend time with CouchSurfers and join them in visiting attractions or for activities – similar to the VFR segment. In this regard we address the question whether the host and the CouchSurfer do things together, which the host habitually does and which he personally knows. From there we formulate our final two theses. Thesis 11:

Hosts join CouchSurfers for activities they habitually pursue.


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Thesis 12:

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Hosts join CouchSurfers for activities they have personally experienced.

The following empirical part of the study examines the theses stated above and whether CouchSurfers are more likely to visit attractions and use services in the Long Tail of tourism. In the discussion that follows we then elaborate on similarities to other types of accommodation and traveling, and the implications for the tourism industry, such as personalization of recommendation. Further, we examine if the results of the study at hand allow for a generalization and give recommendations for further research in the conclusion of our study.


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The Study

This chapter represents the primary research conducted for this study. The first part explains the methodology used, and briefly describes the development of the guideline for the interview. Moreover, this section covers the details about the information collection. The next section of the chapter deals with the analysis of the depth interviews, and re-examines the theses formulated above – including the discussion of results.

3.1

Methodology

The primary research of this paper was done via two semi-structured open interviews aided by the means of a guideline. We chose this form of research, because it allows for a detailed analysis of the study objectives. Kromrey (2006) states that the form of semi-structured interviews, which uses mainly open questions “allows for inquiring more specifically about certain topics, and for capturing issues intensely and more into depth”4. Moreover, a personal interview offers the opportunity to allay ambiguities instantly. Regarding frequency Kromrey (2006) states the possibilities of single interviews or panel interviews. The study at hand only requires one interview per person, therefore the participants where asked permission for one interview only and no panel of participants was established. However, gathering the same group of interviewees for a subsequent study should be possible due to the fact that each individual owns a profile on the platform CouchSurfing.org. The participants for the interviews where chosen from three geographical areas, namely the cities of Graz, Salzburg and Innsbruck. We formed two groups for the respective interviews – one group of hosts and one group of CouchSurfers. The criterion for assigning an individual to one of the groups was the past experience with CouchSurfing based on the references they received on the platform. Thereby the threshold was at least 10 references as a host or CouchSurfer respectively.

4 Kromrey (2006, p. 389): „Diese Form der Befragung erlaubt es, zu bestimmten Themen genauer nachzufragen, Sachverhalte intensiver oder mehr in die Tiefe gehend zu erfassen“.


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3.1.1 Guideline Design For the two groups of interviewees – one group of hosts and one group of CouchSurfers – a guideline was prepared in order to conduct the semi-structured open interviews. The main objective of the interviews was to get an in-depth view of the relationship between CouchSurfers and hosts and examine the hosts’ attitude towards the environment of their home and whether attractions and services in the Long Tail are more likely to profit from the hosts’ recommendations and activities with CouchSurfers. From the theses formulated in chapter 2.5 we derived the question that were included in the guideline as can be seen in Table 1 below. The left column states the theses formulated earlier, while the middle column gives the respective questions for the exploration of the issue. In order to facilitate a narration by the interviewee rather than a survey with rigid structure we thematically organized the questions into five blocks that were the same for both groups – hosts and CouchSurfers - and show only minor differences at specific questions (marked “a” or “b” in the operationalization). To establish a starting point for the interview we open with a section that deals with personal information from the interviewees and asks about travel behaviour and experience in general. The second section is about the participants’ CouchSurfing experience in general, while in the third part of the interview we ask for the motivation to host or CouchSurf respectively. The next section focuses on important characteristics of the respective counterpart, i.e. host or CouchSurfer, while the fifth block concentrates on the issue of recommendation - for either of the groups. The last part of the guideline is dedicated to joint activities of the host and the CouchSurfer. For the study at hand we especially look at the thematic blocks “Recommendations for the CouchSurfer/by the Host” (N° 5, see Table 2 below) and “Joint Activities with the CouchSurfer/Host” (N° 6), because these two sections predominantly deal with the central issue of the study, i.e. recommendations and their impact on the CouchSurfer. However, when conducting the interviews, we discovered that the sections “Motivation for Hosting/CouchSurfing” (N° 3) and “A CouchSurfer/Host that fits” (N° 4) also offer valuable insights into the topic. Appendix A contains the guidelines – arranged according to thematic blocks - for the interviews with the hosts and CouchSurfers respectively.


sit attractions and use services he Long Tail of tourism.

Your Travel Experience in General? 1 Do you think of yourself as an experienced traveler? 1 Do you think of yourself as a cosmopolitan person? 1 m of traveling because of the Generally let me know about your CouchSurfing experience? 2 Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz al recommendations they get. Management How did you getCenter into CouchSurfing? 2 42 Did you always think that CouchSurfing was the right thing for you? 2 Has CouchSurfing.org been the first hospitality exchange network that you use? Do you also use other networks? 2 !"#$%&'()%#*# +,%&"$*-."/*0"$*-.12/#2 3%&)"&4'5*/0 In your opinion, what is the main difference between CouchSurfing and other forms of traveling? 3a+b Are insider tips by your host a motivation for this travel form? 3b How important is theof issue of saving money for you?Guideline 3b Operationalization Theses for the Interview Do you think of a CouchSurfing host as a person who can provide insider tips? 5b Thesis Question TB* Do you regard tips and recommendation from the host as an essential part of CouchSuring? 5b CouchSurfers are likely to visit attractions and use services Your Travel Experience in General? 1 ost with similar interest to their off Why are you on CouchSurfing.org 3a+b the beaten track, i.e. in the Long Tail of tourism. Do you think of yourself as an experienced traveler? 1 Do you think of yourself as a cosmopolitan person? What is your core motivation to CouchSurf ? 3b1 CouchSurfers prefer this form of traveling because they get In your opinion, what is the main difference between CouchSurfing and other forms of traveling? 3a+b your approach Destination or Host Centered? 3b3b toWhich know theislocal people and culture.to CouchSurfing?Which is your approach to CouchSurfing? Destination or Host Centered? Howfor important is it for you to get to know your host better? What is important for you when you search a host? 4b4b important to you that you establish real friendships with your CouchSurfing hosts? Do you prefer a host who is "just like you"IsAreitand shares your interests? 4b4b you trying to do a lot of things together with your host? 6b CouchSurfers prefer this is form of traveling because Generally me know about your CouchSurfing experience? How important it for you to get of tothe know your let host better? 4b2 insider knowledge and special recommendations they get. How did you get into CouchSurfing? Is it important to you that you establish real friendships with your CouchSurfing hosts? 4b22 Did you always think that CouchSurfing was the right thing for you? Are you trying to do a lot of things together with your host? 6b2 Has CouchSurfing.org been the first hospitality exchange network that you use? Do you also use other networks? Are insider tips by your host a motivation for this travel form? Surfers with similar interests to What is your main motivation to host CouchSurfers? 3a3b How important is the issue of saving money for you? 3b What is important for you when you decide whether host a Couchsurfer? 4a5b Do you think of to a CouchSurfing host as a person who can provide insider tips? youyou" regard and tips and recommendation from the host as an essential part of CouchSuring? Do you prefer a CouchSurfer who is "justDo like shares your interest? 4a5b CouchSurfers search for a host with similar interest to their Why are you on CouchSurfing.org 3a+b How important is it for you to get to know theis your CouchSurfer 4a3b own. What core motivationbetter? to CouchSurf ? Which is your approach to CouchSurfing? Destination or Host Centered? Is it important to you that you establish real friendships with the CouchSurfers? 4a3b What is important for you when you search for a host? 4b Is reciprocity an important issue for you, meaning something from the CouchSurfer? 4a4b Do you preferthat a hostyou who also is "justget like you" and shares your interests? Hosts prefer to host CouchSurfers with similar interests to What is your main motivation to host CouchSurfers? 3a ost have a strong impact on the Can you pick 1 or 2 experiences and talk about them in more detail? 3a+b their own. What is important for you when you decide whether to host a Couchsurfer? 4a chSurfer within the destination. Do you give a lot of advice and tips to your CouchSurfers? 5a Do you prefer a CouchSurfer who is "just like you" and shares your interest? 4a How important is it for you to get to know the CouchSurfer better? s based on their own interest. In your CouchSurfing experience, did you get unsolicited tips and recommendations or did you have to ask? 5b4a Is it important to you that you establish real friendships with the CouchSurfers? 4a What are the kinds of things you do recommend? 5a4a Is reciprocity an important issue for you, meaning that you also get something from the CouchSurfer? Recommendations by the host have a strong impact on the preferences Can you pick 1 oror 2 experiences and talk about more detail? 3a+b Do you recommend along your personal try to respond to them whatin you think the CouchSurfer might like? 5a travel behaviour of the CouchSurfer within the destination. Do you give a lot of advice and tips to your CouchSurfers? 5a ations based on own experience. Hosts Didgive yourecommendations first CouchSurf and then start hosting? 3a5b based on their own interest. In your CouchSurfing experience, did you get unsolicited tips and recommendations or did you have to ask? What the kinds of things you Do do recommend? How do you feel about tips and advice you gotarefrom your host? you think those were special and fitting for you? 5b5a Do you recommend along your personal preferences or try to respond to what you think the CouchSurfer might like? Do you recommend things you haven't done or seen yourself ? 5a5a Hosts only!give recommendations based on own experience. Did you first CouchSurf and then start hosting? 3a nd attractions and services off Do you think your host can give you advice tips getadvice nowhere else?your host? Do you think those were special and fitting for you? 5b5b Howand do you feelyou aboutcan tips and you got from Do you recommend things you haven't done or seen yourself ? 5a Long Tail of tourism. Do you think you would have seen or done certain things also without recommendation from your CouchSurfing host? 5b Host are likely to recommend attractions and services off Do you think your host can give you advice and tips you can get nowhere else? 5b Do youtrack, think canTail provide special insider tips the get things nowhere else?recommendation from your CouchSurfing host? 5a5b the beaten i.e. inyou the Long of tourism. Do you think youCouchSurfer would have seen orcould done certain also without you the think beaten you can provide special insider tips the CouchSurfer could get nowhere else? Do you try to recommend things that are Do "off track"? 5a5a Do you try to recommend things that are "off the beaten track"? 5a Dou you feel that you do recommend or rather recommend things that recommend do not cost free oratareall? 5a5a Dou you should feel that you do recommend or rather should thingsmuch that do or not are cost much free at all? Doinfluence marketing messages yourrecommend? home area influence what you recommend? Do marketing messages of your home area whatofyou 5a5a CouchSurfers are likely to ask for attractions and services off In your opinion, what is the main difference between CouchSurfing and other forms of traveling? 3a+b sk for attractions and services off the Inbeaten yourtrack, opinion, is the main difference CouchSurfing other of traveling? 3a+b i.e. in thewhat Long Tail of tourism. Whatbetween kind of recommendations do youand ask your host forms for? 5b When you ask for recommendations - is cost a criterion for you? Long Tail of tourism. What kind of recommendations do you ask your host for? 5b5b Hosts join CouchSurfers for activities they habitually pursue. Keyword: "cultural experience" 3a+b When you ask for recommendations - is cost criterion you? 5b6b What akind of activitiesfor do you do together with your host? Do you feel obligated to spend time and do stuff with your host as a kind of reciprocity for Surfing? 6b r activities they habitually pursue. Keyword: "cultural experience" 3a+b Do you feel obligated to do things together with the CouchSurfer? 6a What kind of activities do you do togetherDowith your host? 6b you feel the CouchSurfers should do things together with you? 6a Hosts join CouchSurfers for activities they have personally What is the kind of activities you join your CouchSurfers for? Do you feel obligated to spend time and do stuff with your host as a kind of reciprocity for Surfing? 6b6a experienced. The activities you do with your CouchSurfers, are those things you usually also do? 6a6a1 -Do you feel obligated to do things together Yourwith age? the CouchSurfer? Your occupation? Do you feel the CouchSurfers should do things together with you? 6a1 r activities they have personally What is the kind of activities you join your CouchSurfers for? 6a Table 1: Operationalization Theses The activities you do with your CouchSurfers, are those things youofusually alsofor do?the Interview 6a * Thematic Blocks Your age? 1N째 General Information & Travel Experience 1 Your occupation? 12 General Experience with CouchSurfing Motivation for Hosting (a)/CouchSurfing (b) A CouchSurfer (a)/Host that Fits (b) Recommendations for the CouchSurfer (a)/by the Host (b) Joint Activities with the CouchSurfer (a)/Host (b)

* Thematic Blocks ** a = Guideline for Hosts, b = Guideline for CouchSurfers General Information & Travel Experience General Experience with CouchSurfing Motivation for Hosting (a)/CouchSurfing (b) A CouchSurfer (a)/Host that Fits (b) Recommendations for the CouchSurfer (a)/by the Host (b) Joint Activities with the CouchSurfer (a)/Host (b) ** a = Guideline for Hosts, b = Guideline for CouchSurfers

Table 2: Thematic Blocks as used in the Guideline

6%*$%'7'8-.'7

3a/b** 4a/b** 5a/b** 6a/b**

N째 1 2 3a/b** 4a/b** 5a/b** 6a/b**


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3.1.2 Information Collection The participants for the depth interviews where acquired via the platform CouchSurfing.org. In geographical terms the cases are limited to the Austrian cities of Graz, Salzburg, and Innsbruck, which were chosen due to similar size and availability of domestic and international tourist attractions. Another criterion was set with the location verification on CouchSurfing, i.e. the platform verifies the location of the users. Further, we only chose CouchSurfers and hosts with at least 10 references for the respective activity. The table below states name, gender, age, the respective occupation and educational level of the interviewees. 9 of the participants are male, and 5 are female, whereby the age varied from 23 to 55. The median age of 29.5 years and the average age of 31.5 years are both close to the average age of 28 years for the total CouchSurfing community (CouchSurfing.org 2012b). A relative majority of 6 participants are students at the moment and 7 participants have a degree from university/university of applied sciences. Pseudonym

Gender

Age

Occupation

Education Level Completed

Richard

M

38

Recruiter

Course of lectures in furniture

Karl

M

26

Student

College

Stefan

M

31

Self-employed

University of Applied Sciences

Lukas

M

25

Student & working part-time

College

Kerstin

F

34

Coach in adult education

University degree

Dagmar

F

24

Student

College

Hans

M

31

IT Project Engineer

University degree

Lisa

F

23

Student

College (HTL)

Roland

M

28

Rickshaw driver

College

Manuel

M

31

Lecturer; studying for a PhD

University degree

Ansuela

F

55

Teacher, artist

University degree

Karin

F

44

Working at University

University degree

Johann

M

28

Student

University of Applied Sciences

Bernhard

M

23

Student

College

Table 3: Summary Profile of Interview Participants

The 13 interviews took place between June 11 and June 28, 2012 in Graz, Salzburg and Innsbruck, whereby 8 where conducted in Graz, 3 in Salzburg, and the remaining 2 in Innsbruck. Generally, the participants were interviewed in single interviews, except for Roland and Manuel who share a flat and live together in Salzburg. Appendix B gives an overview about


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the participants with additional information about the date, length, and location of the interview. For the transliteration we used the software F5, which sets timestamps with the statements automatically. The language used during the interviews was German. Hence, citations used for the analysis are translated from participants’ statements. The length of the interviews varied between 00:18:38 and 1:25:03. We also asked participants whether they wanted anonymization and thus a change of name in the case of citations, which was requested by two of the interviewees. During the interviews we used a flexible design of questioning as suggested by Rubin & Rubin (1995) as it allows for “[pursuing] unexpected insights”.


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Analysis & Discussion

With the following pages we analyse the interviews conducted and cite several statements of the interviewees. We also discuss similarities with other forms of tourism like bed & breakfast and Agritourism, and look at the motivation of CouchSurfers in the light of Pearce’ Travel Career Pattern and the Push & Pull Motivation theory. The citations below are translated from the original German transliteration, whereby the extracts from this analysis can be found in Appendix C with the timestamp of the respective statement in the transliteration. In order to present a structured analysis of the interviews we proceed according to the theses formulated in chapter 2.5.

3.2.1 CouchSurfers and the Long Tail In our first thesis we state “CouchSurfers are likely to visit attractions and collect experience off the beaten track, i.e. in the Long Tail of tourism”. Anent this issue we were interested in the interviewees’ travel behaviour in general, not limited to CouchSurfing alone. We found that CouchSurfers generally prefer to make longer trips – CouchSurfing and also without – and for the most part are backpacking when they are traveling. One thing we found very interesting is the fact that for several participants (Dagmar, Karl, Lukas, Bernhard, Karin) the early travel experience comes from holidays with their parents that were organized in camping style or VFR. Also, practically all the interviewees regard themselves as experienced travelers, which supports our assumption that CouchSurfing is mainly for experienced travelers. For example, Ansuela talks about her travel experience: “And we travel a lot. For half a year we were in South America, half a year in Asia, and half a year in Africa. And since the kids were 9 and 11 years old, we have done 7 big journeys with backpack – in Asia and Africa”. Karl also collects travel experiences this way, as illustrated by this statement: „Yes, hostel. Something like that. Exactly. Which was quite cool in the Balkans – Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia, Macedonia as well – there at the bus station – you get out, and they see: yeah, a backpacker – then 10 old ladies come up to you and (imitates heavily talking at someone): stay with me – 10 Euro, 5 Euro, something like that, somehow English, French, German – they try to talk to you – and pull you into their homes“.


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Lukas recalls how his present travel behaviour was shaped by his first travel experience together with his parents: “I would say it this way: my parents were a great influence regarding this travel behaviour. The first 10 years or so we made practically all of our trips with RV and so on. That is also a reason why I never ... well, the first time I sat in a plane was when I was 16 or so”. Stefan comments on his travel style and thinks it is a good idea not to have too much of a plan: “It really started when I visited a former classmate and friend in Kazakhstan – for like a month, because he was giving lectures there. And then I realized that it is a great thing just to live for the moment, without great plans - going somewhere, get information what is there to see, and then take a look. Without having a plan for everything. And since then I have tried to travel like that”. From the answers in the interviews we conclude that CouchSurfers prefer an independent way of traveling. Whether they are surfing a couch or not, CouchSurfers prefer backpacking as their travel style and thus are more likely to wander off the beaten track and discover attractions that other tourists are not aware of. Loker-Murphy & Pearce (1995) picture the backpacker as an individual who “is perceived to travel further and wider than other tourists to discover new places, people, and cultures”. Further, they place backpackers within the concept of tourism as a whole, and illustrate the position relative to mass tourism and youth tourism regarding the three characteristics of age, budget, and degree of organization (see Figure 8 below). In our interviews we have seen that many CouchSurfers prefer a backpacker style of traveling and thus the description by Loker-Murphy & Pearce fits very well for CouchSurfers. Also, the three characteristics used in Figure 8 are applicable for CouchSurfers. The average age of 28 years (CouchSurfing.org 2012b) for CouchSurfers is above the age segment of 15 to 25 years, which is used by the UNWTO for defining youth tourism (Loker-Murphy & Pearce 1995). Also, the degree of organization is at least as low as for backpackers. When it comes to travel budget we found a parallel to the study by Paris & Teye (2010), who suggest that the issue of travel budget is more important for backpackers with low travel experience. Similarly, several participants of our study stated that saving money initially was a stronger motivation but that it has become less important since then. Thus the statement by Loker-Murphy & Pearce (1995) – that travel budget was one of the drivers for the development of backpacking – is suitable for the case of CouchSurfing as well.


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Figure 8: Backpackers: A Conceptual Framework (Loker-Murphy & Pearce 1995, p.830)

From the discussion above we note that CouchSurfing is a travel form closely related to backpacking, whereby social and cultural involvement with the host community, age segment, travel budget, and degree of organization seems to be very similar. However, the fact that CouchSurfers may be more likely to visit sites off the beaten track does not rule out that they also visit well-known tourist sites. As Steylaerts & O’Dubhghaill (2011) put it: “the sites they wish to gaze upon are both the not-known (to them) and the unknown (as far as others are concerned)”.

3.2.2 CouchSurfers and Local People In the second thesis we formulated “CouchSurfers prefer this form of traveling because they get to know the local people and culture”. Here we wanted to find out whether the local population and the different cultural setting serve as a motivation for CouchSurfers. Above, we noted that for some CouchSurfers financial issues are a strong motivation in the beginning – meeting local people and embracing their culture however, appears to be a strong motivation for all CouchSurfers - regardless of the CouchSurfing experience.


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A statement by Johann illustrates the change of main motivation very well: “I had limited budget for the journey through North America and my thought was – especially in the beginning that was a main motivation – to save money on accommodation. Later that changed quite a bit, because you get to know the people, and so the main motivation changes – when you do things together – the motivation is the people then. And the people you get to know”. Further, we discovered that CouchSurfers ascribe great value to learning about everyday life in the destination they are going to. The host on the other hand has the task to share about the own culture and background, but at the same time wants to learn from the CouchSurfers. The following statements illustrate this very well. Manuel states: “And of course, when you travel, it is very nice, to get to know some sort of everyday life beyond the usual tourist trails”. From the viewpoint of the host, Karin observes: „But as a host in Salzburg I recognize that this is what is expected – that I add to the cultural experience of the people I host“. Bernhard also gives examples for cultural experience from the viewpoint of the host: “And the cultural exchange is something I like. Drinking Mate out of ceremonial jars in my kitchen together with Argentineans – that is just awesome. It’s like, when do you do that? Or some Israeli explaining his traditions and customs - you can read it in a book, but it is not as cool as somebody showing it to you”. Looking at the statements above we see that CouchSurfers satisfy their need for cultural experience through the form of traveling itself, i.e. by meeting the host and getting to know about the everyday life. Steylaerts & O’Dubhghaill (2011) explore CouchSurfing and its connection to authentic experience and assert that CouchSurfers search for the individuation of traveling and unique experience. Interestingly, with CouchSurfing the concept of cultural experience is rather a concept of cultural exchange and displays strong reciprocity as we can see from the statement of Bernhard above. Thereby, CouchSurfing represents a substantial difference to other forms of tourism where usually the guest is the consumer of local culture “produced” by the host (community) and informal exchange of thought rarely occurs. However, the issue offers another parallel to backpacker tourism where Paris & Teye (2010) find the exploration of other cultures among the top motivational factors for backpackers and acknowledge “significant social and cultural dimensions of backpacking”. In the framework of


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the five experience types stated by Uriely et al. (2002) we thus find CouchSurfers mainly in the experiential and in the experimental modes. The strong reciprocity in terms of cultural exchange however, places a problem in regard to experiencing an authentic host culture, because the guest also has a strong influence on the host, and thus more experienced CouchSurfers might be rather cosmopolitan than authentic in the sense of local culture.

3.2.3 CouchSurfers and Insider Knowledge The third thesis we formulated reads “CouchSurfers prefer this form of traveling because of the insider knowledge and special recommendations they get”. Concerning this matter we found that the participants generally thought it was difficult to define what makes a recommendation an insider tip. In colloquial language the term often is used to describe “hidden” attractions or specialties off the beaten track. However, in our interviews hosts and CouchSurfers are not sure whether the recommendations by the host are secret sensations. Virtually all participants advance the view that tips and advice are personal favourites and preferences of the host, however that does not imply a specialty or attraction off the beaten track. It is needless to say that the local/host can also prefer and like some of the major tourist attractions in the area. Karin’s statement explains this issue very well: “I don’t know if that is an insider tip – I don’t care. It was the suggestion of my host and so I went up there. I wasn’t alone on that terrace, but ... well, I really can’t say … an insider tip - that is a strange category anyway. I don’t know if there is really something like an insider tip”. Manuel thinks that insider tips are an important part of CouchSurfing, but he also adds that it is nothing that should be expected: “I think a important point is that you don’t expect something when you go there. And that you are open for everything that may come, because often that are really nice things, and ... yes, from that point of view it is an important thing”. Moreover, several interviewees responded that CouchSurfers generally have some sort of plan what they want to do at the destination. Thus, practical tips about everyday situations are more important as the following statement by Dagmar shows: “Well, [recommendation] secondary behind getting to know the people. I mean, I am a very independent person. If somebody does not have much time for me that is also fine ... and often it is practical tips like:


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how can I get somewhere. Of course you could find out for yourself – mostly with the help of the Internet – but it still depends on the country you’re in”. The responses depict the CouchSurfing host as a person who is rather helpful with advice on situations of everyday life. Tips and recommendation on the other hand are welcome, but are more like a confirmation for the CouchSurfers to have chosen the appropriate travel form when they are already at the destination. The main motivation for the bigger part of the participants is the social interaction with the host as pointed out by Dagmar in her statement, and thus confirms the result of the study by Strommer (2010). However, the LATTE factor (Steylaerts & O’Dubhghaill (2011), which we introduced earlier, gains in significance and materializes especially in travel forms like CouchSurfing. Presently no other travel form seems to cater to guest-host interaction and the attributes Local-Authentic-Traceable-Trustworthy-Ethical as much as CouchSurfing does. In this respect only the Bed and Breakfast (B&B) style of accommodation shares characteristics with CouchSurfing. Tucker (2003) explores the relationship in the context of B&Bs in New Zealand and states that the “overriding reason [is] to have a relationship with local people, to have the opportunity to talk with them, to get to know the lifestyle of New Zealanders, and to learn about their culture”. Tucker further notes that B&Bs in New Zealand by trend are at least as expensive as motels/hotels and asserts the importance of the experience in connection with this form of accommodation. Analyzing this fact we doubt the financial motivation is indeed of low importance for CouchSurfers, because the core motivation is practically the same while one form of accommodation is free of charge and the other is not. On the other hand, we earlier emphasized the importance of recommendation sources to be perceived as independent (Lloyd et al. 2011), i.e. where no monetary exchange occurs. In this respect, CouchSurfing is substantially different from B&Bs. Another comparable form of traveling is Agritourism – a type of farm tourism - where people take part in the habitual activities of the farmers (Sznajder et al. 2009), and which revolves around the participation in “plant and animal production and food processing”, but also involves “[taking] part in the life of a farm family”. The study by Ingram (2002) about The Motivation Of Farm Tourism Hosts and Guests also points into this direction and states “operators experience meeting new people as a benefit of farm tourism”. Thus, similar to CouchSurfing, Agritourism allows the guest to explore the lives of local people and to learn about their culture.


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A similar concept is Worldwide Opportunities On Organic Farms (WWOOF), which is a “noncommercial network of organizations that facilitate volunteer work on organic farms” (Ord & Amer 2010). While falling under the general definition of tourism by the UNWTO, Ord & Amer report that WWOOF organizations do not want to be associated with tourism. However, Ord & Amer also state that WWOOF host farms to a large part regard the program as an alternative form of tourism. Not only is the non-commercial factor a similarity to CouchSurfing, but also the perspective of CouchSurfers who think of themselves as being more socially responsible and interested in the local people and culture than “normal” tourists. As with Agritourism another mutuality of WWOOF and CouchSurfing can be found in the social component. Ord & Amer (2010) in their study found that meeting new people is the major social benefit for WWOOF hosts and that some even go on trips to meet their volunteers – both facts being similar to the answers of the interviewees in our study on CouchSurfers.

3.2.4 CouchSurfers Search for Similar Interest Thesis 4 concerns the question about the importance of similar interests of CouchSurfer and host from the CouchSurfers point of view and reads “CouchSurfers search for a host with similar interest to their own”. The reactions to this issue were diverse and there is no indication that CouchSurfers prefer or search for a host with similar interest to their own. While some basic analogy of interest seems desirable, several participants also expressed their curiosity in hosts who have entirely different interests. The following statements serve as good examples. Manuel stresses the importance of having a likewise character: “It makes quite a difference – I mean, when you look at the profile, I think the interests should be similar ... I mean – we are not really the party animals or something like that – and when it reads: yeah, going out all night ...” Karl on the other hand is not sure what he is really searching for in a host: “Another example: we were in the US at a 75-year old guy. I thought that was so cool that a 75-year old takes part in CouchSurfing. That was in Houston. An old couple. I mean, I totally look for differences too. It’s hard to say, I don’t think there are any clear criteria”. Ansuela, who hosts with all her family, talks about another aspect, i.e. CouchSurfers - especially girls – seeking a family away from home: “It’s like I am a bit of a Couch-Mum for the girls. And often a real close relationship develops. Even though it is just 3 days, a really close, sincere relationship forms, and with quite a few I am still in


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contact. And they write to me and it is really … I can give heartiness and a feeling of security, at least those 3 days, and that is what they appreciate”. From these statements it becomes clear that similar interest is not a decision criterion for CouchSurfers when they search for a host. While a comparable character seems to be a concern for the CouchSurfer, it ultimately is not important how the personality is expressed into interests. Additionally, some people are seeking compensation for things they are missing at or from home. In a previous chapter we introduced the concept of Push and Pull concerning travel motivation. Earlier in the analysis, we found that the needs for cultural experience and social interaction are major drivers in the motivation of CouchSurfers. Hence, we suggest that these two needs serve as the core push factors in the case of CouchSurfing. While most CouchSurfers search for an increased level of social interaction (Germann Molz 2011) until now little is known about why they choose a certain host, i.e. why they are pulled to one host and not the other. The analysis of the interviews throws some light on this matter, even though it appears that there is only a weak link between mutual interest and the choice of host. Shared interest only appears to be important in the eyes of some interviewees and therefore does not qualify as a pull factor for CouchSurfing in general, but only for one segment of CouchSurfers. Moreover the core motivations of social interaction and getting to know new people suggest that CouchSurfers search for a host – and nothing more – because the relevant issue is meeting new people and not necessarily to share interests. In chapter 2.2.3.2 we stated that both, push and pull factors are very specific for segments of tourists and for destinations. According to Crompton’s (1979) categorization it is safe to say that social interaction is the major push force for CouchSurfers, potentially supported by the drive for exploration. As pull factors on the other hand, we consider a model with two layers, with the first one being the specific attributes of the destination and the second layer being the personal attributes of the host. However, we doubt the existence of host-related pull factors that are valid for all CouchSurfers. While a similar personality or shared interest might attract one CouchSurfer, this may not be true for another.


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3.2.5 Hosts Prefer Similar Interest Thesis 5 represents the analog to the prior and concerns the importance of shared interest from the viewpoint of the host. The thesis states “Hosts prefer to host CouchSurfers with similar interests to their own”. The hosts resemble the position of the CouchSurfers to a large extend. Although some express a preference for CouchSurfers with the same hobbies and who choose them explicitly because of that, the larger part of hosts does not attach much importance to mutual interests. Hans prefers CouchSurfers who have the same hobbies: “When I decide it is partially the hard facts, for example when it says that we have the same hobbies and he also wants to practice them [while CouchSurfing] – that is definitely a bonus where I say: yes, when I got the time anyway. Climbing would be such a thing for me. When I see that guy is a climber and will bring along his equipment because he stays that long so we have a chance to go climbing, than that’s already it – that’s a win”. Stefan says mutual interest is not a condition, though he thinks the decision about hosting a CouchSurfer points into that direction automatically: “Regarding interests not really. But on a certain, other level it should be the same kind of folks. When I look at the profile, the person should appear interesting to me. I mean, the request needs to be interesting. In that it is kind of automatic: things I find interesting. And it’s somebody who is cosmopolitan, generally has a positive attitude, is liberal, wants to become acquainted with new things – that kind of thing – and in this respect you got a certain match anyway – I mean, regarding specific interests, it is possible that I am interested in the total contrary”. The statement of Richard is short and concise and shows that mutual interest is no prerequisite: “That is something I don’t care about at all, because if it is something different, I might learn something”. Although hosts do not ascribe great importance to mutual interest among themselves and CouchSurfers we conclude from the interviews that they outrank CouchSurfers on this issue. A partial explanation for this circumstance is the fact that for CouchSurfers part of the motivation consists of the destination attributes and the issue of free accommodation, which are two factors irrelevant for the host. Thus, the social component being the core motive, the interaction with the vis-à-vis is more important for the host than it is for the CouchSurfer. Pietilä’s study (2011) on hosts in Spain supports this theory and finds that meaningful conversations are an important motivation for the host. However, Pietilä also finds that for the host it seems to be more important to share the guest’s culture than to share their own culture with the guest. This view to some extend is supported by Germann Molz (2011) who expatiates


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on the fact that (in Taiwan) many hosts house CouchSurfers to acquire knowledge “and other forms of cosmopolitan capital”. Hence, we conclude that the hosts have a stronger preference for CouchSurfers with similar interest than it is the case vice versa. However, a major motivation also seems to lie in personal differences and the desire to acquire knowledge.

3.2.6 The Impact of Recommendation In thesis 6 we suggested “Recommendations by the host have a strong impact on the travel behaviour of the CouchSurfer within the destination”. Thus, in the interviews we wanted to find out about the impact of the hosts’ recommendation on the Couchsurfers’ behaviour within the destination. We discovered that CouchSurfers have quite a good idea about the destination they are going to when it comes to sights and attractions. Though, there is the prevailing opinion that recommendations of the host facilitate the stay and help to find one’s way around much easier. Similar personality is also a factor influencing the degree of the recommendation’s impact. Kerstin stresses the importance of a similar personality and character, which she thinks is important for her perception about the usefulness of a recommendation: “Absolutely. But most of the time it is not really about … I mean, I am always traveling with a guidebook – I have the ones from Michael Müller, because I like them a lot. Funnily enough I can’t do anything with Lonely Planet, but the other one is good. So, I am informed most of the time, about things to see. Then I just ask: is it worth the money or trouble. And when I get the feeling we are on the same wavelength or the host thinks alike – then I trust the person even more about tips, when he says: that’s good, or bad, or is worth the money or not. Eventually you get your own idea of things anyway”. Lisa (who has only surfed so far, but not hosted) answers very briefly, but determined: “And yes, I think that this has a quite big influence on how I arrange my stay. Definitly, yes”. Roland underlines that tips and advice from the host facilitate the stay at the destination: “That is information, you don’t get anywhere else, if you wouldn’t talk to people. I mean, of course you can also go somewhere and talk to people and ask them without CouchSurfing. That is always a possibility, but like this it is easier, because you already have some sort of contact before, and you already have a contact person or something like that, yes. It makes the entire thing easier. I mean – I’m not shy to talk to other people and ask them: where can you do this or that, or – whatever. That is no problem either, but it makes everything so much easier”.


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Karin is of the opinion that tips are virtually expected from the CouchSurfers. Though, she gives a different point of view regarding the effectiveness of recommendations: “And then they are happy to have somebody who is familiar with the place and is able to tell them a thing or two. But the people discover many things by themselves anyway, or they ask for gastronomic tips like: where would I recommend eating, where it’s typical for the country and not too expensive. Then I give 3 recommendations or so, and they head for somewhere else anyway, which I think is cool too. I am happy with that, because I prefer when they don’t do things I tell them, because they should explore and discover things for themselves. But that is the expectation regarding culture – it’s expected from the host”. With thesis n° 3 we discovered that recommendations from the host are an additional motivation for the travel form of CouchSurfing. Also, we understand from the responses that while CouchSurfers get and ask for recommendation, the larger part does have an itinerary of their own, and tips are used to fill the available gaps in between. However the responses also show that the input of hosts is used to arrange a schedule with the activities planned in advance and the attractions one gets to know on site through the host. Unquestionable, the latter is a distinctive feature of CouchSurfing, due to the high guest-host interaction. Nevertheless, the interviews suggest that the impact of recommendations is also dependent on the personal itinerary. Wang (2006) discusses the concept of itinerary in tourism and suggests it represents the commodity form of mass tourism products. CouchSurfing in contrast, is not a mass tourism product, and by its claim for and emphasis on a high degree of individuation (Steylaerts & O’Dubhghaill 2011) may not dispose of the one form that can be described entirely. Another understanding about how much the recommendation impacts on the CouchSurfer’s behaviour within the destination is in the connection with Pearce’s Travel Career Pattern. In the case of CouchSurfers the core motives in Pearce’s model consist of the relationship and selfdevelopment needs, while the next layer – denoting the characteristic of self-development – depends on the respective travel experience of the person. While all the participants of this study are avid travelers, we suppose disparity among CouchSurfers in this second layer of the TCP. We suggest that CouchSurfers with extensive travel experience are more likely to follow the recommendation of hosts, because according to Pearce & Lee (2005) more experienced travelers increasingly focus on host-site involvement, whereas less experienced travelers emphasize personal development.


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3.2.7 Hosts Recommend their own Interest Thesis number 7 reads “Hosts give recommendations based on their own interest” and we thereby wanted to know whether the host establishes recommendations from personal interest. Most of the interviews showed that recommendations are based on the hosts’ interest and that it is very likely an automated mechanism not even fully perceived by the hosts themselves. Another aspect we noticed in our conversations with the interviewees was the fact that many recommendations and tips concern gastronomic services and nightlife. Here, we see a connection with the prior thesis where we explained that most CouchSurfers do have an idea about what to see at a destination. However, most of them have a lack of information regarding restaurants, cafés, bars, clubs and the like. Richard’s statement confirms our assumption and indicates that hosts also recommend places like tourist offices, where the CouchSurfer can get more information about the destination: “No, it’s also personal preferences. I think that’s quite normal. And when he asks, it is in that direction, things I just know or also quite often where he can ask. And when I don’t know, I’ll try to tell them where to get more information. That is something I always know”. Manuel – from the viewpoint of the CouchSurfer - thinks that the host’s tips also create new insights and opportunities: “Yeah, and then you get infected, or you can try out something new, I mean, it’s not like you are doing a standard city tour with everyone. Of course there are the personal interests, which sometimes bring about really interesting new ways. And that is really cool. Because of that it’s also – I mean, the profiles are meaningful only to some extent, and … obviously, you can’t put your whole life in there”. The statement of Lukas gives an example for the focus on tips regarding gastronomy. Moreover it shows the attitude of hosts to let CouchSurfers discover the city for themselves: “Yeah, I tell them where to get the best coffee, I tell them where to get the best ice-cream, but in general I have my own point of view in this regard: it’s the most fun to explore a city on your own. Just standing there in main street and have a look: o.k., should I go left, should I go right – what attracts me the most right now? Let’s walk this way for some time. Yeah”. The participants do not make a clear statement that hosts base recommendation on their own interest; nevertheless we recognize a tendency in this direction. A reason why we do not have a clear indication for such behaviour of the hosts is the fact that interests are usually the kind of


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activities they pursue together with the CouchSurfers. In section 3.2.11 we elaborate further on this issue. However, when it comes to the subject of gastronomy it is clear that tips and advice are based on personal preferences of the host, which is appreciated and sought by the participants of our study. MacCannell (1976) pointed out the phenomenon of “developing an interest in the real life of others” decades ago, and we have seen earlier that the “normal life” and habitual activities of hosts exert a pull on the CouchSurfers. Nevertheless – as pointed out in the previous section – we doubt that such recommendation has an equally strong effect on every CouchSurfer.

3.2.8 Hosts Recommend Own Experience Thesis 8 states, “Hosts only give recommendations based on own experience”. On examining this issue we found that hosts indeed tend to recommend based on personal experience only and often – similarly to recommendations based on own interest – recommend attractions or services, which they habitually use or which are close to their home. Additionally, we discovered that recommendations are not limited to the destination where the host lives, but do also include tips and advice regarding other places, which the CouchSurfer might visit subsequently. Johann’s statement illustrates how hosts recommend things they normally do: “I think that is mainly the case when the host does not live in the center of the city, but a little farther from it, and you ask him where you can go for a coffee or get something to eat, and then he recommends something he likes himself or likes to do, and that can be rather in the neighbourhood. I think, a ‘normal’ tourist just won’t end up there, because he does not know anyone who would tell him such a thing”. Richard explains the condition for giving recommendations about things he has not experienced himself: “I would recommend such things in case a friend of mine was there and told me positive things about it – but in case I only know something from a brochure, I would not recommend it, because then he can form his own opinion anyway”. Kerstin elaborates on the subject that hosts also recommend places that are not in the vicinity of their home: “Anyway, she gave me the tip to go to Mount Edith Cavell – or whatever the name is – and it was brilliant, because I was the only one directly at the glacial lobe, that was really awesome. But I probably would … maybe I would have seen it on the map, but thought: no, you can’t go there, or it’s not worth the trip – it was quite a ride uphill. Or you are awed and think: no, that’s something I better don’t do


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alone. I mean, the tips of people who traveled somewhere themselves. Because funnily enough the people who visit some place often know better about the place than the locals. That’s interesting”! From the exemplary statements above we conclude that personal experience is an important prerequisite for the host in order to articulate a recommendation. Moreover, the scope of recommendations is not limited to a geographical area and can relate to any place the host has traveled to and that emerge during the conversation with the CouchSurfer. Also, the recommendation behaviour of hosts is similar to hosts of Visiting Friends and Relatives (VFRs). In section 2.3.4.1 we mentioned the study on VFRs by Young et al. (2007) who also address the issue of recommendation based on the experience of the host. They suggest that hosts are a “powerful advertising force in promoting the attractions of the region”. Due to the great importance of relationship and increased social interaction, we argue that CouchSurfers partially resemble the situation of VFRs illustrated by Young et al. Another interesting aspect in this context is the issue of tacit knowledge (Veijola 2006), which describes the idea of “unformulated knowledge affecting people all the time, even though it cannot be expressed or articulated”. From this we infer that habits and services a host normally uses are more likely to be recommended to CouchSurfers. Earlier we also talked about the CouchSurfer’s motivation of getting to know the normal life of the host. MacCannell (1976) argues that through the desire of the tourist to go behind the scene and meet the locals in their natural environment the authenticity becomes “staged” and the locals will retreat further to escape the encounter with the tourist. However, it is questionable if the concept of staged authenticity is valid in the context of CouchSurfing, where inviting people into one’s everyday life is the fundamental concept and the host can easily retreat from the encounter with CouchSurfers simply by setting the Couch status to ‘not available’. Moreover, recommendations based on the host’s experience help to circumvent the problem of staged authenticity, because the host only recommends but does not join the CouchSurfer for a certain activity. In this way the host enables an authentic experience for the CouchSurfer by opening the door to the backstage – to his/her everyday life. In case the CouchSurfer takes the hint and follows a recommendation, the experience is authentic and unique, because it is owned by the CouchSurfer and not influenced by the presence of the host or any subsequent tips regarding the situation. This characteristic is similar to the concept of existential authenticity (Wang 1999), which suggests, “tourists seek … their own authentic selves and intersubjective authenticity”. Thereby, existential experience refers to the “authenticity of Being” (Wang 1999), meaning that authenticity is created in the very moment.


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3.2.9 Hosts Recommend the Long Tail The next thesis we formulated was “Hosts are likely to recommend attractions and services off the beaten track, i.e. in the Long Tail of tourism”. Here, the goal was to find out whether CouchSurfing hosts rather recommend the well-established attractions of their home region or rather attractions that are not so popular and often regarded as insider tips. From what we found in the interviews we can support that the Long Tail gets more attention in the recommendations pronounced by the hosts. While they suggest well-established tourist attractions as well, the hosts increasingly share recommendations about events and sights that are not covered by the formal tourist information channels. Moreover, we found that hosts try to warn CouchSurfers to avoid tourist traps and overly crowded places. Dagmar regards both sides, the CouchSurfer and the host point of view, and thinks that attractions and services off the beaten track account for an increased share of recommendations: “I try to think of examples – I mean, that’s right. And I know the same thing the other way round – that I told something that the people who stayed with me wouldn’t have found out otherwise”. Johann recounts an example of a recommendation, which is in the Long Tail in his opinion: “One example is Chicago where I went to a reading at university: I wouldn’t have done that in my entire life. That’s something not even coming to your mind. It wasn’t really advertised publicly or anything. It was material the students had written in their literature course at university and which they then read out in this reading. I mean, it was public, but with practically no advertising, something you would just not see. I mean, if you don’t pass by the university by chance you don’t even hear about it. It was really awesome. I didn’t get half of what they had written, but … well I fully understood one, which was quite funny”. Hans believes getting information and tips from the host is more convenient and quicker, and CouchSurfers eventually can go to the tourist office for additional information: “Normally, yes. I mean, when he’s here for sightseeing in the city, then … if I got the time, I do a short tour in the inner city and tell what other things there are to see in Graz. That can be the typical tourist attractions, which he’d also find out about at the tourist information office. But it’s just quicker when he arrives and I tell him what he can do. And in case he wants more of the popular tourist places, he will go to the tourist information anyway – you tell him where it is and he can ask for further information there”. Lukas’ point of view is that besides giving recommendations it is equally important to advice CouchSurfers on sights and attractions that better be avoided:


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“Because in Salzburg I would tell every surfer: don’t visit [Mozart’s] house of birth, don’t go into Linzergasse, don’t go up to the castle – just leave it. It’s better you do this and that, because it’s much better. But in Graz you don’t have that where you’d say: let it be, cause … yeah, o.k. the Schlossberg is something you just have to do, but even in midsummer, where tons of tourist groups are here. O.k., then it’s a little crowded, but it’s still not like you have to wait for half an hour to see the Schlossberg or the Uhrturm”. In one conversation we identified another aspect, which was not considered earlier, i.e. the issue that CouchSurfers act as advocates for their home region also via the platform CouchSurfing.org. Thereby the hosts intend to persuade CouchSurfers to come to their area and spend time with them, as illustrated by the statement of Hans: “I think it’s rather that CouchSurfing partially is another way of marketing for your city. I mean, every now and then I wrote with some people, like … or sometimes there is a request on the general bulletin boards like: I am in Austria, in Vienna, and I’m not sure whether I should go to Graz. And on CouchSurfing.org there is always people from Graz who reply: yeah, you totally have to come, because … this and that”. The statements by our participants show that tourism services and attractions in the Long Tail do account for an increased share of total recommendations. Lew (2008) attests a huge potential for the Long Tail market and argues – in order to be successful – the approach needs “a sufficient number of products”, minimized storage and distribution costs, and “broad and deep market and distribution channels” all of which are present in the case of CouchSurfing. Lynch (2005) in his study on Commercial Home Enterprises (CHEs) emphasizes the importance of hosts as “part of the product”, which is conferrable to CouchSurfing where we outlined the importance of the social interaction with the host earlier. Hence, when we look at CouchSurfing hosts from a global perspective using Lew’s classification on the destination level, with more than 4.5 million users (CouchSurfing.org 2012b) there are a sufficient number of hosts (i.e. products) on the network of CouchSurfing.org to cover the honeypot as well as the niche destinations. Second, the low cost character of CouchSurfing is obvious and was explained earlier. Third, the broad and deep market is met by the worldwide distribution of CouchSurfers and the diversification across cultures. Hence, in some areas the high density of CouchSurfers further diversifies within the destination and increases coverage of attractions and services in the Long Tail.


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Moreover, the CouchSurfing community can serve as marketing tool for a destination as illustrated by the statement of Hans above. We discussed earlier that especially the undecided traveler is seeking for advice in travel social media and thus more influenced by the opinion of others. CouchSurfing.org represents a trustworthy source for information and thus recommendation from members of the CouchSurfing community about places to go and attractions to visit are likely to be followed by CouchSurfers.

3.2.10 CouchSurfers Search for the Long Tail Thesis 10 stated that “CouchSurfers are likely to ask for attractions and services off the beaten track, i.e. in the Long Tail of tourism”. The statements of the respondents show that insider tips and knowledge about “hidden” attractions and services off the beaten track are a reason to choose the travel form of CouchSurfing. Yet, it is only an additional motivation to the core motive of cultural exchange and social interaction with the host. Moreover, recommendation by the host is mostly used to fill the gaps in the existing itinerary of the CouchSurfer as we already mentioned earlier. Regarding recommendations, we further found that information about daily routines is valuable to CouchSurfers and that they perceive this kind of knowledge as insider tip and recommendation of local specialties. Karl affirms the question whether tips from the host are a motivation for CouchSurfing. Further he indicates that general information about everyday life is valuable for him: “Yes, absolutely. And I generally follow those recommendations. When a host says: that’s a good place to eat, that’s good for going out, take a look at this, that one is crap … also those small things like: how does public transport work, what’s to keep in mind, … what’s o.k. here and what is not – I mean, the insider tips are extremely important. And in case … yeah, it is the insider tips – I mean, it’s tips from the locals who always live there and don’t recommend the tourist traps”. The perception of Manuel is similar, also stressing the importance of information about everyday situations: “I mean, the hosts certainly are different. I don’t know if I … up to now we’ve always had people who told us a lot about the neighbourhood or what is there to see. Often it’s really trivial things and when they tell you: well yeah, take that way, because it’s a lot prettier, or there’s a better view, or you get to some place – unlike when you walk the other street. I mean, that can be tiny things, like telling you where the next pharmacy is, or they even got something at home themselves, or – I don’t know – I think that’s what it is”.


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Further, we wanted to know whether cost plays a role when CouchSurfers ask for recommendation, due to the pre-condition of CouchSurfing being accommodation for free. However, among our participants cost of activities or events was not an issue. The statement of Kerstin exemplifies the reason for that: “No, I don’t do that. But I think that is also a question regarding the requirements I have by now. Could have been when I was 20. No, thank God I was never on that track. I believe that is a personal trait anyway … I mean, of course I am happy when I save some money – don’t get me wrong – but when I go on holidays – well, holidays is the wrong word –for me traveling is luxury, something that’s not required. It’s beautiful, but it’s luxury, and I can’t understand that some people go traveling without money and think they can live at your expense”. From the interviews we conclude that CouchSurfers do regard the personal recommendations of their host as important component of the travel form. Although not perceived as important as the social interaction with the host, the tips and recommendations are particularly appreciated and desired when daily routine or the customs at the destination are concerned. In a sense, the CouchSurfers want to acquire the feeling of being at home in the destination, similar to what Paris & Teye (2010, p. 256) suggest for backpackers. Yet, seeking unique (and authentic) experience is a phenomenon not limited to CouchSurfing, as Germann Molz (2011) and Steylaerts & O’Dubhghaill (2011) suggest. Rather, the way social interaction and cultural exchange is performed through this form of traveling, makes it easier for CouchSurfers to get off the beaten track and have unique experience that is owned by themselves alone.

3.2.11 CouchSurfers and the Host’s Habits The final two theses concentrated on activities, which the host and CouchSurfer pursue together. In thesis 11 we stated “Hosts join CouchSurfers for activities they habitually pursue”. We discovered that length of stay exerts a dominating influence on mutual activities - the longer the stay, the more likely it is that host and CouchSurfer pursue activities together. Further, we found that hosts prefer conversational activities and that both, CouchSurfers and hosts, like to cook and eat together. Karl describes activities he pursues with hosts and points out, that conversation is an important facet of CouchSurfing for the host: “Most of the times it’s something like having a beer, or eating, maybe cook something together. Sometimes – but it depends – many hosts don’t want to walk around their city and look at stuff, because they don’t care – they see it every day. For them it is more about the conversation with you, because they also enjoy


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different thoughts and something new. And, yeah – most of the times it’s something like going out, or meet for a coffee, or go and see where they work, eat together, things like that”. When elaborating on the issue of recommendations, Stefan gives an insight about when he joins CouchSurfers for events or activities: “That is the key aspect, yes. And if it’s something, where I have not been either, I am of course more interested that I go there or do something – because somehow you also get to know your own area better. Because you usually don’t do stuff like that. Take the tourist’s viewpoint on the city or the neighbourhood to see what you can do. And that are the moments where I get a chance to do such things”. Dagmar illustrates the issue of cooking together and expresses the notion that mutual experiences with CouchSurfers are similar to those with friends: “What I had when I was surfing myself – if I can cook something Austrian – a typical dish. That’s something I really like doing. Other than that – festivals happening at that time – in a park, on the street – where you can go to ... Or day trips to the lake, which is a little bit further, or to a beach that is close. I mean, often it is like things you would do with friends, when you’re in the area, and not so much sight seeing. It’s more about hanging out together”. Another aspect is the fact that hosts show their workplace to CouchSurfers and thus offer additional insights into everyday life and daily routine as Johann’s response shows: “Other people show you their workplace. That was also quite interesting. David for example – he was an architect – and also a dancing master, and the evening I arrived he gave dancing lessons in his house where he had an own ballroom. And so I joined them for a little bit. And also next morning: we went to a house, which he was building at that time, and showed me around there. It was really cool - just to see what people do for a living and not only how the place is from a tourist’s point of view, but to see what people do who live there”. Ansuela points out another dimension of habit, i.e. the habits of CouchSurfers, who bring along a part of their daily routine or work and give the host access to their everyday life, thereby reciprocating the act of friendship provided by the host: “Yes, absolutely. Like the musicians – the Argentineans. They were awesome when they played, and it happens quite often that someone grabs the guitar and sings. I do like it a lot and we have so many instruments standing about. Or Jason – he was a pianist and musician – and played the piano for me. And then there were 2 totally funny guys – one of them was an opera singer and the other one a musical singer – and then they gave a performance for us. I also like it when I learn something new from the CouchSurfers – when there’s something to learn. There was an American, who had been sushi chef for 2


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years and prepared the sushi in front of the customers, and when I asked her, she gave as a 6-hour workshop on making sushi. One Swiss, she was dancing master for oriental dance, and each evening she was here she taught me oriental dance.” The analysis shows that the social component also plays the key role when it comes to mutual activities. The host’s attitude to show the workplace to the CouchSurfer is similar to the motivation of farm tourism hosts as pointed out by Ingram (2002), i.e. besides meeting different people and social interaction, the dimension of showing the own everyday life and teaching the guest about life on a farm serve as additional motivation. Above we also mentioned the issue of guests bringing knowledge and some of their daily routine to the host. We found that there is active exchange of knowledge among CouchSurfers, which further increases when guest and host have similar interest or professional background. Here, the study of Ingram again shows similarities and reports the fact that guests – who are farmers too – bring knowledge about farm practices at their home place. It also supports our earlier finding (3.2.2) that CouchSurfing rather represents cultural exchange than consumption by the CouchSurfer. In the introduction we briefly talked about experience economy (Pine & Gilmore 1999) and from our analysis we conclude that CouchSurfing is located primarily in the educational realm, while we do not entirely exclude the other types of experience (see Figure 9 below). However, both stakeholders, host and CouchSurfer, are in the process of acquiring new knowledge and/or skills as suggested by Oh et al. (2007). Thus, we suggest that novelty, in the form of education, represents one of the strong core motivations in a CouchSurfer’s TCP.


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Figure 9: The 4 Realms of Experience, taken from Oh et al. (2007)

3.2.12 CouchSurfers and the Host’s Experience The ultimate thesis we formulated earlier reads “Hosts join CouchSurfers for activities they have personally experienced” and concerns the attitude of hosts towards joining the CouchSurfer in visiting attractions and using services, which they already have experienced. However, we found no definite conclusion regarding this issue. While some hosts base mutual activities on their own previous experience, others take hosting as opportunity to learn more about the own environment. Lisa tells an example from her travels, which illustrates that the host’s experience in his home environment is a helpful resource: „But then, for example: Hamburg, the harbour – I now remember, with the CouchSurfer – we took the bike ... well, he lent me a bike, and we cycled through the city, and he then for example showed me where to get the best fish sandwiches, and such things – those you probably won’t get when you read tourist


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information brochures, or such things ... you won’t get that, because the local people know these things much better“. Another example from Bernhard shows that CouchSurfing helps to become acquainted with the own environment better: “And there are CouchSurfers who showed me awesome places here in Innsbruck, because we just strolled through the city for hours. This way I got to know the city much better and by now I have done about 15 tours for CouchSurfers. And I get better at it … One example: the Argentineans absolutely wanted to visit a museum and I said: yeah, just let us go. So we went to the folklore museum and I had a look at Tyrolean tradition and so on, which I had not known before either. It wasn’t a 100 percent interesting for me, but they – when they saw the Krampus masks – it totally blew their minds. And I was just standing there: what, that is? O.k., right, that is impressive. Or the dirndl dresses and everything, they totally liked it in that museum”. Lukas’ statement demonstrates that there is no preference among hosts for activities they have previously experienced, and it rather depends on the situation: “I mean, most of the time a standard tour for tourists – we start from our place, across the Murinsel, up Schlossberg, and show them all that stuff. In the evening we sit in the park, or we go out together. Maybe play some board games at home, in case you have someone who is crazy for board games, but other than that … go for concerts or stuff like that, yes. Everything that lends itself to the moment we’re in”. From the interviews we cannot form a clear conclusion that previous experience by the host is a prerequisite for mutual activities. We ascribe this to the emphasis on individuation (Germann Molz 2011, Steylaerts & O’Dubhghaill 2011) that is inherent to CouchSurfing, and to situational components such as availability of the host for joint activities and length of stay of the CouchSurfer. Further, we found the aspect of learning more about the home environment affecting the host. In section 3.2.8 of the analysis we introduced the concept of tacit knowledge in combination with the host’s experience. Based on this theory we implied, that hosts rather recommend attractions and services they have personally experienced, because information about other attractions is not as readily available. In this context Veijola (2006) further argues: “The presence of a stranger also encourages a native of the area to explain and account for the stranger what is there to be seen, experienced, and sensed, and why. This telling may reveal the landscape to the one who already knows it in a different way because of the new social situation of looking at it and telling its stories”.


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Tuan (1974) suggests the reason behind this idea is the fact that “only the visitor has a viewpoint” while “the native … has a complex attitude derived from his immersion in the totality of his environment”. Thus, it is only natural that hosts get to know their home environment better when they join the CouchSurfers upon exploring it.

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Conclusion and Recommendations for Further Research

The analysis provides several new insights into the travel form of CouchSurfing, especially in the field of recommendation and interaction of hosts and CouchSurfers. While the results presented in the previous chapter help to better understand this travel segment, at the same time new questions arise in this realm. In the analysis we found that CouchSurfing shares many characteristics with the travel form of backpacking. While many CouchSurfers travel in a backpacking style, one major difference to other forms of backpacker accommodation remains the factor of payment. We are in line with Strommer (2010), who argues there is no monetary exchange, and thus missing familiarity cannot be compensated through economic benefit. Further we found similarities with the VFRs segment, which neither is recorded in tourism statistics, but accounts for a substantial part of tourism (Young et al. 2007). Thus, we suggest CouchSurfing is a subdivision of the backpacker spectrum, without displacing other forms of backpacker accommodation, but adding to them. Due to the increasing number of CouchSurfers, this travel form should not be neglected in the realm of tourism. We suggest that further research focus on the factors that distinguish backpackers from CouchSurfers and to study the economic impact created by the CouchSurfing community. Another point of this study was to illuminate the motivation of CouchSurfers for choosing this travel form. In the chapters on motivation (2.2) and motivation of CouchSurfers (2.4.2) we looked at several concepts of motivation theory. First, we examined the concept of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and the findings of our study suggest an interactive appearance of the two factors for the travel form of CouchSurfing. CouchSurfing combines the intrinsic motives of social contact and novelty with the extrinsic motives (i.e. reward) of learning about other people and cultures and making use of the host’s knowledge about local situation and customs. Also, we found the financial component serves as additional factor in respect to extrinsic motivation. Further, we explained Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and found that the third level of the hierarchy, i.e. the belongingness and love needs, have special significance for the travel form of CouchSurfing. In the interviews we found the core motivation for most CouchSurfers is to meet new people from different cultures and establish new relationships. Both of these needs are within the realm of the belongingness and love needs of Maslow’s Hierarchy, while the higher-


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ranked levels of esteem and self-actualization needs do only play a supporting role to the core motivation. Maslow’s hierarchy also plays a key role in Pearce’ Travel Career Pattern, which we introduced in chapter 2.2.3.1. The TCP identifies novelty, relationship, and self-development as three out of four core motivations for traveling. As stated above we found the social component taking the central position in the motivation of CouchSurfers. Additionally we found that learning about other cultures is another important part for these travelers. Some of our interview partners also shared their thoughts about CouchSurfing being a way of developing the self. On explaining the TCP we also examined the second layer, which represents the implementation of the core motive for self-development. As we already suggested in the analysis we suppose that less experienced CouchSurfers rather focus on personal development and have a well planned itinerary whereas CouchSurfers with a lot of experience tend to have greater host-site involvement and are more likely to listen to and follow the recommendations of their hosts. We suggest further research to concentrate on this issue. Moreover, we suppose research on this matter could illuminate the transition from backpacker to CouchSurfer. In our analysis we further identified cultural exchange and social interaction also as the core motivation for hosting CouchSurfers. Very similar to the study of Pietilä (2011) in Spain, we found the cultural aspect very important. However, the community & social factors seem to be more significant in the Austrian setting than Pietilä identified them for Spain, where selfdevelopment is ranked second behind the cultural factors. Yet, further research is required on this issue, because we cannot compare the results of our qualitative research method with the quantitative method used by Pietilä. We suggest the three factors above to be the core motives for hosting CouchSurfers and propose further research in this area centers on the question if these factors can be applied on a global scale, and whether there is a ranking among those factors or if they are interchangeable. Regarding Push and Pull motivation theory we suggested inner drives such as new experience and change of social environment to be the prevailing Push forces for both, CouchSurfers and hosts. The analysis of our interviews supports the findings of Hollinger et al. (2009) and Strommer (2010) with regard to CouchSurfers and also maintains the findings by Pietilä (2011) in respect to CouchSurfing hosts. For Pull motivation on the other hand we offered social interaction and the host attributes to be the dominant factors. Our findings clearly support the importance of social interaction as Pull force, however we do not have a conclusion for host attributes and were unable to identify why a CouchSurfers chooses a certain host. Our analysis


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shows that for some CouchSurfers characteristics and similar interests seem an important factor for choosing a host, while for other CouchSurfers these issues have no importance at all. We propose to focus on this matter and conduct further research, because the scope of this study disallows a clear statement in this regard as our study is limited to a small number of CouchSurfers in Austria and thus cannot be generalized. We suggest an examination of the section within CouchSurfing requests, where CouchSurfers can state why they want to stay with a certain host. However, we suppose data privacy is a possible restriction for such research. In chapter 2.2.3.3 we touched the subject of money in the context of travel motivation. In combination with CouchSurfing we implied a connection between the “accommodation for free” and the corresponding travel behaviour and suggested that CouchSurfers – in addition to saving money on accommodation – also try to spend as little money as possible on attractions they visit and services they use. In the interviews however we were not able to find evidence for such behaviour. Rather, the travel form of CouchSurfing is used to have the money available for spending on attractions, events and services at the destination. Thus, as suggested earlier, we recommend the examination of the economic impact created by CouchSurfers. The tourists’ search for authentic experiences is another issue that concerns CouchSurfing as much as tourism in general. In chapter 2.4.2 we introduced the LATTE factor (Steylaerts & O’Dubhghaill 2011), standing for local-authentic-traceable-trustworthy-and-ethical, and the requirement to differentiate toured objects and tourist experiences (Wang 1999). We found that due to cultural exchange with the CouchSurfers, hosts are rather cosmopolitan and international than authentic in an object-related sense (compare the types of authenticity by Wang 1999, p. 352). However, we found that CouchSurfing enables the traveler to experience existential authenticity (Wang 1999), which is based on the high degree of interaction with the host. Thus, we formulate the recommendation for tourism practitioners in destination management, to explore opportunities for actively involving the CouchSurfing community into destination strategy. There are a great number of users on the platform CouchSurfing.org, who do not host, but are willing to spend time with travelers. With special focus on those CouchSurfers, we are confident that a destination, which successfully includes those community members into its strategy, will benefit from the increased satisfaction of its customers. Additionally we advise researchers to focus on the creation of methods and mechanisms that allow for a smooth process of integration. Another aspect we found is that personal recommendations for the CouchSurfers serve as a sort of sign where to find the everyday, authentic life of the host. Thus, the CouchSurfer only needs


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to follow recommendations to get an idea about the existential authenticity. In this context, we propose to conduct further research whether this concept is conferrable to other forms of accommodation or information services. Eventually this helps to determine the barriers between stranger, friend, and tourist, which Veijola (2006) deems important with respect to the host’s personal motivation to share a cultural experience. An issue that came up in the interviews is the facet that many CouchSurfers think about the travel form as a good way to learn about other cultures and also for acquiring new skills. Thus, in the analysis of results we addressed the allocation of CouchSurfing in the concept of experience economy (Pine & Gilmore 1999). As we suggested earlier, we find traces of each realm within this travel form, though we assert a focus on the active participation in general, and the educational experience in particular. Therefore, we suggest further research based on the theory of Pine & Gilmore with focus on the aspect of intercultural and interpersonal education. To conclude with the study we mention the limitations we encountered during our research. We stated above that the geographical framework for our study is Austria, in the form of the cities Graz, Salzburg, and Innsbruck to be accurate. In the Austrian context these cities are regarded as major cities, despite their relatively small population measured on an international scale. Thus, the geographical framework represents one limitation of our study. Therefore, we propose research on the subject of our study in other geographical settings to examine whether there are differences and if so, the nature of these. The socio-cultural background of the participants in our interview denotes another limitation. First, for all participants the minimum educational achievement is a college degree. Moreover, five of the six people, where a college degree is the highest achievement at the moment, are taking courses at university. Second, almost all participants are Austrian citizens, except for one Italian, who origins from South Tyrol and lives in Austria for more than 10 years. The close bonds of Austria and South Tyrol thus allow to declare the cultural background as Austrian only. Further research thus should also focus on host-guest interaction and recommendation in other socio-cultural settings.


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In Italien laufen sie blind an tausend leisen Schönheiten vorbei zu jenen offiziellen Sehenswürdigkeiten hin, die sie doch meistens nur enttäuschen, weil sie, statt irgendein Verhältnis zu den Dingen zu gewinnen, nur den Abstand merken zwischen ihrer verdrießlichen Hast und dem feierlich-pedantischen Urteil des Kunstgeschichtsprofessors, welches der Baedeker ehrfurchtsvoll gedruckt verzeichnet. Fast würde ich denen den Vorzug geben, welche als erste, weit überragende Erinnerung mitbringen: das gute Kotelett, welches sie gegessen haben; denn sie bringen doch wenigstens eine aufrichtige Freude mit, etwas Lebendiges. Eigenes. Intimes. (Rainer Maria Rilke, 1875 – 1926)

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Appendix The appendix has a separate pagination starting with page 1 (this page). In case of a citation in text, the page number appears with a capital “A” before the page number, e.g. “A2”.

Appendix A.................................................................................................... 2   Appendix B ................................................................................................... 6   Appendix C ................................................................................................... 8  


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Appendix A Interview with CouchSurfers Thematic Section

Questions

Some general questions at

 Your age?

first.

 Your occupation?  Your Travel Experience in General?  Do you think of yourself as an experienced traveler?  Do you think of yourself as a cosmopolitan person?

Let me know about your CouchSurfing experience in general.

 Generally let me know about your CouchSurfing experience.  How did you get into CouchSurfing?  Did you always think that CouchSurfing was the right thing for you?  Has CouchSurfing.org been the first hospitality exchange network that you use? Do you also use other networks?

Tell me about your

 Why are you on CouchSurfing.org?

motivation to CouchSurf.

 What is your core motivation to CouchSurf?  Which is your approach to CouchSurfing? Location or Host centered?  Are insider tips by your host a motivation for this travel form?  How important is the issue of saving money for you?  In your opinion, what is the main difference between CouchSurfing and other forms of traveling?  Can you pick 1 or 2 experiences and talk about them in more detail.  Keyword: “cultural experience”

A Host that „fits“ for you,

 What is important for you when you search for a host?

how is that person?

 Do you prefer a host who is „just like you“ and shares your interests?  How important is it for you to get to know your host better?


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 Is it important to you that you establish real friendships with your CouchSurfing hosts? Let’s talk about recommendations from the host.

 Do you think your host can give you advice and tips you can get nowhere else?  What kind of recommendations do you ask your host for?  In your CouchSurfing Experience, did you get unsolicited tips and recommendations or did you have to ask?  How do you feel about tips and advice you got from your hosts? Do you think those were special and fitting for you?  Do you think you would have seen or done certain things also without recommendation from your CouchSurfing host?  Do you think of a CouchSurfing host as a person who can provide insider tips?  Do you regard tips and recommendation from the host as an essential part of CouchSurfing?  When you ask for recommendations - is cost a criterion for you?

Let’s talk about activities with hosts.

 Are you trying to do a lot of things together with your host?  What kind of activities do you do together with your host?  Do you feel obligated to spend time and do stuff with your host as a kind of reciprocity for Surfing?


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

4

Interview with Hosts Thematic Section

Questions

Some general questions at

 Age?

first.

 Occupation?  Your Travel Experience in General?  Do you think of yourself as an experienced traveler?  Do you think of yourself as a cosmopolitan person?

Let me know about your CouchSurfing experience in general.

 Generally let me know about your CouchSurfing experience.  How did you get into CouchSurfing?  Did you always think that CouchSurfing was the right thing for you?  Has CouchSurfing.org been the first hospitality exchange network that you use? Do you also use other networks?

Tell me about your

 Why are you on CouchSurfing.org?

motivation for hosting

 Did you first CouchSurf and then start hosting?

CouchSurfers?

 What is your main motivation to host CouchSurfers?  In your opinion, what is the main difference between CouchSurfing and other forms of traveling?  Keyword: “cultural experience”  Can you pick 1 or 2 experiences where you hosted CouchSurfers and talk about them in more detail.

Let’s talk about CouchSurfers you want to host.

 What is important for you when you decide whether you want to host a CouchSurfer?  Do you prefer a CouchSurfer who is „just like you“ and shares your interests?  How important is it for you to get to know the CouchSurfer better?  Is it important to you that you establish real friendships with the CouchSurfers?  Is reciprocity an important issue for you, meaning that you also get something from the CouchSurfer?

Let’s talk about

 Do you give a lot of advice and tips to your


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

recommendations you give to Couchsurfers.

5

CouchSurfers?  What are the kinds of things you do recommend?  Do you recommend along your personal preferences or try to respond to what you think the CouchSurfer might like?  Do you think you can provide special insider tips the CouchSurfer could get nowhere else?  Do you try to recommend things that are “off the beaten track”?  Do you feel that you do recommend or rather should recommend things that do not cost much or are free at all?  Do you recommend things you haven’t done or seen yourself?  Do marketing messages of your home area influence what you recommend?

Let’s talk about activities with CouchSurfers.

 What is the kind of activities you join your CouchSurfers for?  The activities you do with your CouchSurfers, are those things you usually also do?  Do you feel obligated to do things together with the CouchSurfer?  Do you feel the CouchSurfers should do things together with you?


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Appendix B The list below gives additional information about all interviewees, including the CouchSurfing experience, as well as date, length and location of the interview. The CouchSurfing experience refers to the references at the time of the interview with the respective person. Further, all interview partners have a verified location on CouchSurfing.org. Richard, 38 years old, lives in Graz; course of lectures in furniture and interior fittings; recruiter; CouchSurfing Experience (i.e. references at time of interview): Surfed: 0 Hosted: 13 Traveled: 2 Interview: at Richard’s home in Graz, on June 11, 2012 for 00:18:38 (hh:mm:ss) Karl, 26 years old, lives in Graz, finished high school, sociology student; CouchSurfing Experience: Surfed: 17 Hosted: 5 Traveled: 5 Interview: at Café Fotter in Graz, on June 12, 2012 for 00:51:59; Stefan, 31 years old, lives in Graz, degree at University of Applied Sciences, self-employed; CouchSurfing Experience: Surfed: 4 Hosted: 13 Traveled: 0 Interview: at “Eckhaus” in Graz, on June 13, 2012 for 00:24:35; Lukas, 25 years old, lives in Graz, student, works at university; CouchSurfing Experience: Surfed: 2 Hosted: 23 Traveled: 3 Interview: at Tribeka in Graz, on June 19, 2012, Duration: 00:51:55; Kerstin, 34 years old, lives in Graz, works as coach in adult education; CouchSurfing Experience: Surfed: 46 Hosted: 41 Traveled: 23 Interview: at Kerstin’s flat in Graz, on June 20, 2012 for 01:16:50; Dagmar, 24 years old, lives in Graz, studying for being an interpreter; CouchSurfing Experience: Surfed: 14 Hosted: 13 Traveled: 17 Interview: at Stadtpark in Graz, on June 21, 2012 for 00:35:41; Hans, 31 years old, lives in Graz, studied software engineering, works as IT project engineer; CouchSurfing Experience: Surfed: 2 Hosted: 10 Traveled: 3 Interview: at Hotel Daniel in Graz, on June 21, 2012 for 00:26:43


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

Lisa, 23 years old, lives in Graz, studying to become a doctor; CouchSurfing Experience: Surfed: 11 Hosted: 0 Traveled: 3 Interview: at “Die Scherbe” in Graz, on June 22, 2012 for 00:35:56; Roland & Manuel, 28 years and 31 years old, living in Salzburg, ; CouchSurfing Experience: Surfed: 13 Hosted: 10 Traveled: 5 Interview: at Roland & Manuel’s flat in Salzburg, on June 25, 2012 for 01:25:03; Ansuela, 55 years old, living in Salzburg, studied fiber craft and Spanish, is a teacher and artist; CouchSurfing Experience: Surfed: 20 Hosted: 42 Traveled: 3 Interview: at Ansuela’s home in Salzburg, on June 25, 2012 for 00:41:29; Karin, 44 years old, living in Salzburg, university degree, works at university; CouchSurfing Experience: Surfed: 6 Hosted: 84 Traveled: 2 Interview: at Karin’s flat in Salzburg, on June 26, 2012 for 01:11:15; Johann, 28 years old, living in Innsbruck, Bachelor degree, studying for a Master’s; CouchSurfing Experience: Surfed: 25 Hosted: 1 Traveled: 6 Interview: at Johann’s flat in Innsbruck, on June 27, 2012 for 00:39:10; Bernhard, 23 years old, lives in Innsbruck, studying for 2 Bachelor degrees; CouchSurfing Experience: Surfed: 10 Hosted: 15 Traveled: 1 Interview: at Bernhard’s flat in Innsbruck, on June 28, 2012 for 00:38:01;

7


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8

Appendix C Table of Statements The following table gives an overview of the statements used in chapter 3.2 for the analysis of the study. They are listed in the order in which they are presented in the analysis. The table states the name of the participant – including the time of statement in the interview – and gives the statement in English as well as the original statement from the transliteration in German. Interviewee &

Statement in English

Timestamp

Statement in German (from Transliteration)

Ansuela

“And we travel a lot. For half a year we

Und wir sind Vielreisende. Wir waren ein

(00:14:49-1)

were in South America, half a year in Asia,

halbes Jahr in Südamerika, ein halbes Jahr in

and half a year in Africa. And since the kids

Asien, und ein halbes Jahr in Afrika. Und seit

were 9 and 11 years old, we have done 7

die Kinder 9 und 11 Jahre alt waren, haben wir

big journeys with backpack – in Asia and

7 große Reisen gemacht mit den Rücksäcken -

Africa”.

in Asien und Afrika.

Karl

Yes, hostel. Something like that. Exactly.

Ja, Hostel, sowas, genau. Was in ... in, im

(00:11:34-4)

Which was quite cool in the Balkans –

Balkan ziemlich cool war - so Montenegro,

Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia,

Kosovo und Serbien, und Mazedonien auch -

Macedonia as well – there at the bus station

da bist du von der Busstation - steigst aus, die

– you get out, and they see: yeah, a

merken, ja o.k. so ein Rucksacktourist - dann

backpacker – then 10 old ladies come up to

kommen so 10 Babschas - also alte Mütter auf

you and (imitates heavily talking at

dich zu, und (imitiert starkes Einreden) bleiben

someone): stay with me – 10 Euro, 5 Euro,

sie bei mir - 10 Euro, 5 Euro, irgend so was,

something like that, somehow English,

irgendwie Englisch, französisch, deutsch -

French, German – they try to talk to you –

schauen das sie mit dir reden können - und

and pull you into their homes.

ziehen dich zu sich nach Hause so ungefähr.

Lukas

I would say it this way: my parents were a

Ich sag einmal so - mich haben meine Eltern

(00:01:09-1)

great influence regarding this travel

sehr stark geprägt, was dieses Reiseverhalten

behaviour. The first 10 years or so we

betrifft. Also wir haben die ersten 10 Jahre oder

made practically all of our trips with RV

so fast nur Urlaub mit Campingbus und so

and so on. That is also a reason why I

gemacht. Das ist auch der Grund warum ich

never ... well, the first time I sat in a plane

eigentlich nie, also ... ich bin das erste mal in

was when I was 16 or so.

einem Flugzeug gesessen mit 16 oder so

Stefan

It really started when I visited a former

Dann, eigentlich so wirklich angefangen hat's

(00:01:14-5)

classmate and friend in Kazakhstan – for

mit dem dass ich einen ehemaligen Schulfreund

like a month, because he was giving

von mir besucht hab, in Kasachstan - gleich ein

lectures there. And then I realized that it is

ganzes Monat, weil er dort unterrichtet hat.

a great thing just to live for the moment,

Und da bin ich eigentlich darauf gekommen,

without great plans - going somewhere, get

dass es a klasse Geschicht ist - einfach so ein


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

9

information what is there to see, and then

bisschen in den Tag hinein, ohne große

take a look. Without having a plan for

Planung, fahren wir irgendwo hin, und

everything. And since then I have tried to

informieren wir uns was es dort zum anschauen

travel like that.

gibt, und des schauen wir uns dann an. Ohne jetzt alles Vollgas durchgeplant zu haben. Seitdem hab ich eigentlich versucht das so zu machen, und ... (überlegt)

Johann

I had limited budget for the journey

Ich habe dann eigentlich ein limitiertes Budget

(00:11:58-4)

through North America and my thought

eigentlich gehabt für die Reise durch

was – especially in the beginning that was a

Nordamerika und hab mir gedacht: ja - für

main motivation – to save money on

mich war das eigentlich zu Anfang schon eine

accommodation. Later that changed quite a

Hauptmotivation, nur quasi eben so bei der

bit, because you get to know the people,

Unterkunft sparen. Das hat sich dann natürlich

and so the main motivation changes –

später geändert, weil du einfach durch die Leute

when you do things together – the

die du kennenlernst, verlagert sich irgendwie die

motivation is the people then. And the

Motivation dann einfach - wenn du was machst

people you get to know.

mit denen, auf das - auf die Leute. Und die Leute die du kennenlernst.

Manuel

And of course, when you travel, it is very

Und natürlich wenn man reist, ist es total fein

(00:15:40-6)

nice, to get to know some sort of everyday

dass man quasi jenseits der Touristenpfade - so

life beyond the usual tourist trails.

quasi so ein alltägliches Leben jetzt kennenlernt.

Karin

But as a host in Salzburg I recognize that

Aber als Gastgeberin in Salzburg merke ich

(00:29:23-8)

this is what is expected – that I add to the

schon, dass das erwartet wird, dass ich da was

cultural experience of the people I host.

dazu beitrage zur kulturellen Erfahrung bei Leuten die ich aufnehme.

Bernhard

And the cultural exchange is something I

Und der kulturelle Austausch ist auch was mir

(00:10:21-9)

like. Drinking Mate out of ceremonial jars

taugt. Mit Argentinier bei mir in der Küche drin

in my kitchen together with Argentineans –

Mate-Tee trinken aus so zeremoniellen Gefäßen

that is just awesome. It’s like, when do you

- das ist einfach super. Wann hast du so etwas?

do that? Or some Israeli explaining his

Oder dass dir irgendein Israeli seine

traditions and customs - you can read it in

Traditionen und Bräuche erklärt. Das kannst du

a book, but it is not as cool as somebody

aus einem Buch lesen, aber das ist nicht so cool

showing it to you.

wie wenn es dir irgendwer zeigt.

Karin

I don’t know if that is an insider tip – I

Ich weiß nicht ob das ein Insider-Tipp ist - ist

(00:38:48-1 AND

don’t care. It was the suggestion of my host

mir auch egal. Meine Gastgeberin hat mir das

00:40:18-7)

and so I went up there. I wasn’t alone on

vorgeschlagen und ich bin dann da

that terrace, but ... well, I really can’t say ...

raufgegangen. Ich war nicht alleine da oben auf

an insider tip - that is a strange category

der Terrasse, aber ... Ich könnte das zum

anyway. I don’t know if there is really

Beispiel jetzt nicht sagen.

something like an insider tip.

AND: Und Insider-Tipps das ist so eine komische Gattung. Ich weiß nicht ob es das wirklich gibt, einen Insider-Tipp.


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

10

Manuel

I think a important point is that you don’t

Ich glaube, ganz zentral ist glaube ich einfach,

(01:03:24-6)

expect something when you go there. And

dass man sich nichts erwartet, so beim

that you are open for everything that may

Hingehen. Und einfach offen ist für alles was

come, because often that are really nice

kommt, weil da entwickeln sich oft ganz schöne

things, and ... yes, from that point of view

Sachen, und ... (überlegt) Von dem her ist

it is an important thing.

sicher ein wichtiger Punkt, ja.

Dagmar

Well, [recommendation] is secondary

Ja ... schon. Aber zweitrangig zu dem dass ich

(00:06:52-5 AND

behind getting to know the people. I mean,

einfach die Leute kennenlerne. Also ich bin

00:22:24-1)

I am a very independent person. If

ziemlich eigenständig. Wenn wer nicht viel Zeit

somebody does not have much time for me

für mich hat ist das auch o.k. oder so.

that is also fine ... and often it is practical

AND:

tips like: how can I get somewhere. Of

Und auch öfters sicher praktische Tipps im

course you could find out for yourself –

Sinne von: wie komme ich wo hin. Das man

mostly with the help of the Internet – but it

natürlich selber rausfinden kann mit Hilfe vom

still depends on the country you’re in.

Internet meistens - kommt darauf an in welchem Land das man ist.

Manuel

It makes quite a difference – I mean, when

Es macht viel aus ... also, wenn man jetzt das

(00:49:52-2 AND

you look at the profile, I think the interests

Profil anschaut, dann sag ich schon, die

00:50:11-5)

should be similar ... I mean – we are not

Interessen sollten ähnlich sein ...

really the party animals or something like

AND:

that – and when it reads: yeah, going out all

Also, wenn ich jetzt ... wir sind jetzt nicht

night ...

unbedingt Party-Tiger oder so in der Richtung, und wenn jetzt drinsteht: ja, also jetzt voll jeden Abend ausgehen, und ...

Karl

Another example: we were in the US at a

Oder auch, dann waren wir einmal in den USA

(00:32:53-9)

75-year old guy. I thought that was so cool

bei einem 75-Jährigen. Ich hab das so cool

that a 75-year old takes part in

gefunden, das halt ein 75-Jähriger auch

CouchSurfing. That was in Houston. An

mitmacht bei CouchSurfing ... in Houston. Ein

old couple. I mean, I totally look for

altes Ehepaar, und (überlegt) also, ich schau

differences too. It’s hard to say, I don’t

dann auch voll auf Unterschiede. (überlegt) es

think there are any clear criteria.

ist schwierig, es gibt keine klaren Kriterien.

Ansuela

It’s like I am a bit of a Couch-Mum for the

Also, ich bin dann so ein bisschen Couch-

(00:11:52-5)

girls. And often a real close relationship

Mutter für die Mädels. Es entsteht oft eine

develops. Even though it is just 3 days, a

wirklich enge Beziehung. Obwohl sie bloß 3

really close, sincere relationship forms, and

Tage sind, entsteht wirklich eine enge, herzliche

with quite a few I am still in contact. And

Beziehung, und etliche ... da habe ich noch

they write to me and it is really … I can

Kontakt. Und die schreiben mir noch, und es

give heartiness and a feeling of security, at

ist wirklich ganz ... ich kann (überlegt) Wärme

least those 3 days, and that is what they

und Geborgenheit geben, wenigstens diese 3

appreciate.

Tage, und das schätzen sie schon.

Hans

When I decide it is partially the hard facts,

Wo ich dann entscheide, ist teilweise auch

(00:14:02-5)

for example when it says that we have the

Hard-Facts, zum Beispiel wenn bei jemand

same hobbies and he also wants to practice

steht, er hat gleiche Hobbies oder so, und dann

them [while CouchSurfing] – that is

möchte er die auch machen - ausüben oder so,


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

11

definitely a bonus where I say: yes, when I

dann ist das auf jeden Fall schon ein Bonus wo

got the time anyway. Climbing would be

ich sage: ja ... wenn ich sowieso die Zeit habe.

such a thing for me. When I see that guy is

Stichwort Klettern wäre jetzt bei mir so was.

a climber and will bring along his

Wenn ich sehe das ist ein Kletterer, und der

equipment because he stays that long so we

wird auch das mithaben, weil er ist so lange

have a chance to go climbing, than that’s

hier, dass wir auch die Chance haben, das wir

already it – that’s a win.

klettern gehen können, dann hat er eigentlich schon gewonnen.

Stefan

Regarding interests not really. But on a

Von den Interessen her, nicht unbedingt. Aber

(00:12:32-2)

certain, other level it should be the same

auf einer gewissen weiteren Ebene müssen's

kind of folks. When I look at the profile,

schon die gleiche Art von Leute sein. Wenn ich

the person should appear interesting to me.

mir das Profil anschaue, der muss interessant

I mean, the request needs to be interesting.

wirken. Also, die Anfrage muss interessant sein.

In that it is kind of automatic: things I find

Insofern ist es automatisch: was finde ich

interesting. And it’s somebody who is

interessant. Und das ist auch jemand, der

cosmopolitan, generally has a positive

(überlegt) weltoffen, grundsätzlich positive

attitude, is liberal, wants to become

Lebenseinstellung (überlegt) liberale

acquainted with new things – that kind of

Einstellung, neue Sachen kennenlernen will - in

thing – and in this respect you got a certain

dieser Art ist - und von dem her, hat man

match anyway – I mean, regarding specific

schon einen gewissen Match - wobei,

interests, it is possible that I am interested

spezifische Interessen kann jetzt sogar sein,

in the total contrary.

dass ich eben total konträres interessant find.

Richard

That is something I don’t care about at all,

Das ist mir eigentlich komplett egal. Weil

(00:08:39-6)

because if it is something different, I might

wenn's etwas anderes ist, kann ich vielleicht

learn something.

auch was lernen.

Kerstin

Absolutely. But most of the time it is not

Absolut. Aber halt meistens geht's jetzt nicht so

(00:23:30-3)

really about … I mean, I am always

um ... Weil ich halt immer mit Reiseführer - ich

traveling with a guidebook – I have the

hab immer so die Michael-Müller-Guides, die

ones from Michael Müller, because I like

taugen mir einfach irrsinnig gut. Ich fang mit

them a lot. Funnily enough I can’t do

Lonely Planet oft nicht so viel an witzigerweise,

anything with Lonely Planet, but the other

aber die sind gut. Das heißt: informiert bin ich

one is good. So, I am informed most of the

meistens schon, was zum Sehen ist irgendwo.

time, about things to see. Then I just ask: is

Meistens frag ich den dann noch: ist das das

it worth the money or trouble. And when I

wert - der Eintritt oder so was ... Und je nach

get the feeling we are on the same

dem wie ich merke: der tickt irgendwie ähnlich,

wavelength or the host thinks alike – then I

oder sieht das ähnlich - um so mehr trau ich

trust the person even more about tips,

dann dem auch, dass der Tipp dann halt auch

when he says: that’s good, or bad, or is

wirklich gut ist, oder schlecht, oder zahlt es sich

worth the money or not. Eventually you

aus oder nicht. Da machst du dir dann eh dein

get your own idea of things anyway.

eigenes Bild dann daraus.

Lisa

And yes, I think that this has a quite big

Und ich glaub schon, dass das einen recht

(00:26:26-6)

influence on how I arrange my stay.

großen Einfluss auf die Gestaltung meines

Definitly, yes.

Aufenthaltes hat. Das definitiv, ja.

That is information, you don’t get

Ja, das sind wirklich Infos, die du sonst wirklich

Roland


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

(00:20:16-0)

12

anywhere else, if you wouldn’t talk to

gar nicht erfahren kannst, wenn du jetzt nicht

people. I mean, of course you can also go

Leute anredest. Ja - ich meine, sicher kann man

somewhere and talk to people and ask

jetzt auch abseits von CouchSurfing, wo

them without CouchSurfing. That is always

hinreisen und Leute einfach anreden und

a possibility, but like this it is easier,

fragen. Das ist immer eine Möglichkeit, aber ...

because you already have some sort of

ja, so geht's halt leichter, weil man schon

contact before, and you already have a

irgendwie einen Kontakt irgendwie vorher hat,

contact person or something like that, yes.

und man hat sozusagen einen Ansprechpartner

It makes the entire thing easier. I mean –

oder so was in der Richtung, ja. Das erleichtert

I’m not shy to talk to other people and ask

die ganze Sache schon. Ich meine - ich scheue

them: where can you do this or that, or –

mich sonst auch nicht irgendwen anzureden

whatever. That is no problem either, but it

und nachzufragen: ja, wo kann man das und das

makes everything so much easier.

machen, oder - was weiß ich ... Das ist sonst auch kein Problem, aber es erleichtert halt die ganze Sache.

Karin

And then they are happy to have

Und dann freuen sie sich wenn sie mit wem

(00:33:45-9)

somebody who is familiar with the place

ortskundigen zu tun haben, der ihnen das eine

and is able to tell them a thing or two. But

oder andere sagen kann. Aber vieles entdecken

the people discover many things by

die Leute eh von selber, oder sie fragen mich

themselves anyway, or they ask for

nach irgendwelchen gastronomischen Tipps: ja,

gastronomic tips like: where would I

wo würde ich empfehlen zu essen, wo's

recommend eating, where it’s typical for

landestypisch ist und nicht zu teuer. Dann gebe

the country and not too expensive. Then I

ich halt meine 3 Empfehlungen ab, und dann

give 3 recommendations or so, and they

gehen sie erst recht woanders hin, was aber

head for somewhere else anyway, which I

auch super ist. Und dann ... ich freue mich dann

think is cool too. I am happy with that,

immer, weil ich mir denke: es ist mir eh lieber,

because I prefer when they don’t do things

wenn sie nicht das machen was ich sage, weil

I tell them, because they should explore

die sollen's ja eh selber entdecken. Aber das ist

and discover things for themselves. But

die Erwartung, das ist diese kulturelle

that is the expectation regarding culture –

Erwartung die an den Gastsgeber gestellt wird

it’s expected from the host.

...

Richard

No, it’s also personal preferences. I think

Nein, schon auch persönliche Vorlieben. Ich

(00:12:29-7)

that’s quite normal. And when he asks, it is

glaube, das ist eh normal. Und wenn er fragt,

in that direction, things I just know or also

natürlich in die Richtung, was ich halt kenne,

quite often where he can ask. And when I

oder ... oder auch wo er fragen kann, sehr oft.

don’t know, I’ll try to tell them where to

Wenn ich es nicht weiß, dann wo er vielleicht

get more information. That is something I

mehr Informationen herkriegen kann. Da kann

always know.

ich ihm immer etwas sagen.

Manuel

Yeah, and then you get infected, or you can

Ja, dann wird man angesteckt, oder man kann

(00:57:52-6)

try out something new, I mean, it’s not like

reinschnuppern und so irgendwie, also das ist ja

you are doing a standard city tour with

nicht dass man mit alle da so eine klassische

everyone. Of course there are the personal

Stadtbesichtigung macht oder so. Da sind dann

interests, which sometimes bring about

natürlich ganz die eigenen Interessen, die dann

really interesting new ways. And that is

einen dann oft auf ganz interessante Wege


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

13

really cool. Because of that it’s also – I

einfach bringen. Und das ist schon lässig.

mean, the profiles are meaningful only to

Deswegen ist es ja auch - ich meine - die Profile

some extent, and … obviously, you can’t

sind - die meisten - bis zu einem gewissen Grad

put your whole life in there.

nur aussagekräftig, und ... klar, du kannst ja nicht dein ganzes Leben da irgendwie reinschreiben ...

Lukas

Yeah, I tell them where to get the best

Ja, ich sag Ihnen wo's den besten Café gibt, ich

(00:39:30-8)

coffee, I tell them where to get the best ice-

sag Ihnen wo's das beste Eis gibt, aber

cream, but in general I have my own point

prinzipiell ... steh ich da einfach auf meinem

of view in this regard: it’s the most fun to

eigenen Standpunkt: am meisten Spaß macht's

explore a city on your own. Just standing

eine Stadt einfach selber zu erkunden. Einfach

there in main street and have a look: o.k.,

sich einmal ... in die Hauptstraße hinstellen und

should I go left, should I go right – what

sich einfach nur einmal anschauen: o.k. geh ich

attracts me the most right now? Let’s walk

da nach links, geh ich da jetzt rechts - wo

this way for some time. Yeah.

gefällt's mir denn jetzt gerade am besten? Spazieren wir mal da entlang ... ja.

Johann

I think that is mainly the case when the

Das ist halt vor allem dann der Fall wenn man -

(00:27:33-1)

host does not live in the center of the city,

wenn der Host vielleicht nicht mitten in der

but a little farther from it, and you ask him

Stadt oder im Zentrum wohnt oder so, sondern

where you can go for a coffee or get

ein bisschen außerhalb, und man den fragt wo

something to eat, and then he recommends

man auf einen Kaffee gehen kann oder was

something he likes himself or likes to do,

essen, dann empfiehlt er halt was er selber gern

and that can be rather in the

mag oder gern tut, und das kann dann dort in

neighbourhood. I think, a ‘normal’ tourist

der Nähe sein eher. Ich denke mir, da wird sich

just won’t end up there, because he does

vielleicht auch ein "normaler" Tourist nicht

not know anyone who would tell him such

hinverirren, weil er halt keinen kennt der ihm

a thing.

das sagt.

Richard

I would recommend such things in case a

Tät ich dann empfehlen wenn ich Freunde

(00:14:49-0)

friend of mine was there and told me

haben die dort waren und was gutes drüber

positive things about it – but in case I only

gesagt haben - aber jetzt nicht wenn ich's nur so

know something from a brochure, I would

vom Prospekt herunter hab, weil dann kann er

not recommend it, because then he can

sich eh selbst eine Meinung bilden - dann kann

form his own opinion anyway.

ich's nicht empfehlen.

Kerstin

Anyway, she gave me the tip to go to

Auf jeden Fall hat sie mir einen anderen Tipp

(00:24:58-3)

Mount Edith Cavell – or whatever the

geben, dass ich zu dem Mount Edith Cavell -

name is – and it was brilliant, because I was

oder wie der heißt - fahre, und es war super,

the only one directly at the glacial lobe, that

weil ich war der einzige Mensch direkt unter der

was really awesome. But I probably would

Gletscherzunge, das war der Hammer. Und da

… maybe I would have seen it on the map,

hätte ich aber wahrscheinlich ... vielleicht hätte

but thought: no, you can’t go there, or it’s

ich's sogar auf der Karte gesehen, aber mir

not worth the trip – it was quite a ride

gedacht: nein, da kannst du nicht hinfahren,

uphill. Or you are awed and think: no,

oder das zahlt sich nicht aus - das war relativ

that’s something I better don’t do alone. I

weit den Berg rauf. Oder du bist

mean, the tips of people who traveled

eingeschüchtert das du sagst: nein, alleine muss


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

somewhere themselves. Because funnily

ich das auch nicht unbedingt machen. Also,

enough the people who visit some place

diese Tipps, weil die selber schon dort gereist

often know better about the place than the

sind. Weil witzigerweise weiß ja einer der dort

locals. That’s interesting!

gereist ist, das viel-viel besser als die Locals -

14

meistens. Ist interessant! Dagmar

I try to think of examples – I mean, that’s

Ich versuch gerade zu überlegen nach

(00:21:38-5)

right. And I know the same thing the other

Beispielen - also, es stimmt sicher. Und ich

way round – that I told something that the

weiß auch andersrum, dass ich sicher schon mal

people who stayed with me wouldn’t have

was gesagt habe, dass die sonst nicht gewusst

found out otherwise.

hätten, wie sie bei mir waren.

Johann

One example is Chicago where I went to a

Oder zum Beispiel in Chicago da war ich auf

(00:37:31-0)

reading at university: I wouldn’t have done

einer Literatur-Lesung auf der Uni in Chicago:

that in my entire life. That’s something not

das hätte ich glaube ich nie im Leben gemacht.

even coming to your mind. It wasn’t really

Auf das kommst du ja gar nicht selber. Das war

advertised publicly or anything. It was

ja nicht großartig öffentlich ausgeschrieben

material the students had written in their

oder so. Das war aus dem Kurs heraus was die

literature course at university and which

Studenten geschrieben haben im Literaturkurs.

they then read out in this reading. I mean,

Das haben sie da zum Besten gegeben in der

it was public, but with practically no

Vorlesung. Und das war schon öffentlich, jetzt

advertising, something you would just not

aber nicht großartig beworben oder so, also das

see. I mean, if you don’t pass by the

siehst du jetzt nicht. Also wenn du nicht

university by chance you don’t even hear

zufälligerweise bei der Uni vorbeiläufst, dann

about it. It was really awesome. I didn’t get

kriegst du das nicht mit. Das war total cool. Ich

half of what they had written, but … well I

hab zwar die Hälfte nicht verstanden, aber ...

fully understood one, which was quite

eines habe ich ganz verstanden, das war recht

funny.

witzig (Lachen)

Hans

Normally, yes. I mean, when he’s here for

Normalerweise ja. Also, wenn er hier ist um die

(00:18:01-8)

sightseeing in the city, then … if I got the

Stadt anzusehen, dann ... wenn ich die Zeit

time, I do a short tour in the inner city and

habe, mach ich die kurze Innenstadtrunde mit

tell what other things there are to see in

ihm, und sag was es noch so in Graz gäbe zum

Graz. That can be the typical tourist

Anschauen. Das sind von mir aus die typischen

attractions, which he’d also find out about

Touristensachen, die er im Grunde im

at the tourist information office. But it’s

Touristenbüro auch erfahren würde. Nur ist es

just quicker when he arrives and I tell him

einfach schneller wenn er bei mir angekommen

what he can do. And in case he wants more

ist, und ich sag ihm das gleich, was er alles

of the popular tourist places, he will go to

machen könnte. Und wenn er dann sagt, gut ich

the tourist information anyway – you tell

möchte noch mehr von den ausgetretenen

him where it is and he can ask for further

Touristenpfaden, dann lauft er eh beim Büro

information there.

vorbei - sagt man ihm wo das ist, und dann kann er da noch weiterfragen.

Lukas

Because in Salzburg I would tell every

Weil, in Salzburg ... würd ich jedem Surfer

(00:46:55-5)

surfer: don’t visit [Mozart’s] house of birth,

sagen: geh nicht ins Geburtshaus, geh nicht in

don’t go into Linzergasse, don’t go up to

die Linzergasse, ... geh nicht zum Schloss rauf -

the castle – just leave it. It’s better you do

lass das einfach alles sein. Mach lieber, das, das


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

15

this and that, because it’s much better. But

und das, weil das ist ja viel besser. Aber, das

in Graz you don’t have that where you’d

gibt's in Graz einfach nicht, wo du sagst: lass

say: let it be, cause … yeah, o.k. the

das einfach, weil ... ja, o.k. Schlossberg muss eh

Schlossberg is something you just have to

jeder raufgegangen sein, und selbst im

do, but even in midsummer, where tons of

Hochsommer, wo alle Touristengruppen da

tourist groups are here. O.k., then it’s a

sind. Ja, dann ist der halt ein bisschen voller,

little crowded, but it’s still not like you have

aber es ist immer noch nicht so das du eine

to wait for half an hour to see the

halbe Stunde anstehst um den Schlossberg zu

Schlossberg or the Uhrturm.

sehen ... oder den Uhrturm zu sehen.

Hans

I think it’s rather that CouchSurfing

Da ist es eher so glaub ich, dass CouchSurfing

(00:21:47-4)

partially is another way of marketing for

selbst auch eine andere Art von Marketing für

your city. I mean, every now and then I

die eigene Stadt ist teilweise. Also ich hab auch

wrote with some people, like … or

schon teilweise dann auch mit Leuten

sometimes there is a request on the general

geschrieben, so ... oder es kommt ab und zu so

bulletin boards like: I am in Austria, in

eine Anfrage rein - in Allgemeinform: ich bin

Vienna, and I’m not sure whether I should

halt in Österreich und bin in Wien, und bin am

go to Graz. And on CouchSurfing.org

Überlegen ob ich jetzt noch nach Graz

there is always people from Graz who

runterfahren soll oder nicht. Und da finden sich

reply: yeah, you totally have to come,

eigentlich immer auf CouchSurfing Grazer die

because … this and that.

dann schreiben: ja, du musst unbedingt nach Graz kommen, weil ... das und das.

Karl

Yes, absolutely. And I generally follow

Ja ... auf jeden Fall. Und dem folg ich eigentlich

(00:19:26-8)

those recommendations. When a host says:

grundsätzlich. Wenn einer sagt: dort ist gut

that’s a good place to eat, that’s good for

essen, dort ist gut fortgehen, ihr sollt's euch das

going out, take a look at this, that one is

anschauen, oder das ist ein Schaß ... auch bei so

crap … also those small things like: how

kleinen Sachen wie: wie funktionieren die

does public transport work, what’s to keep

öffentlichen Verkehrsmittel, auf was muss man

in mind, … what’s o.k. here and what is

da aufpassen, ... was ist da o.k., was ist nicht

not – I mean, the insider tips are extremely

o.k. - also, die Insider-Tipps sind extrem

important. And in case … yeah, it is the

wichtig. Und falls dann auch ... ja es sind schon

insider tips – I mean, it’s tips from the

Insider-Tipps - es sind halt Tipps von lokalen

locals who always live there and don’t

Leuten die immer da leben - und die auf jeden

recommend the tourist traps.

Fall die Touristenfallen ... nicht empfehlen.

Manuel

I mean, the hosts certainly are different. I

Ich meine, mit die ... die Gastgeber sind ja

(00:33:42-9)

don’t know if I … up to now we’ve always

verschieden. Ich weiß nicht ob ich auch ... aber

had people who told us a lot about the

wir haben bis jetzt eigentlich immer Leute

neighbourhood or what is there to see.

gehabt, die sehr viel erzählt haben von der

Often it’s really trivial things and when they

Umgebung oder was man anschauen sollte,

tell you: well yeah, take that way, because

oder ... das sind ganz banale Sachen, und wenn

it’s a lot prettier, or there’s a better view, or

sie sagen: ja-nein, nehmt's den Weg, weil das ist

you get to some place – unlike when you

viel schöner, oder da hat man die bessere

walk the other street. I mean, that can be

Aussicht, oder da kommt man zu dem

tiny things, like telling you where the next

Plätzchen, als wenn man die andere Straße geht

pharmacy is, or they even got something at

- Also das können ganz kleine Sachen sein, oder


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

home themselves, or – I don’t know – I

... dass sie sagen können wo die nächste

think that’s what it is.

Apotheke gleich ist, oder selbst was daheim

16

haben, oder - was weiß ich was - also das ist. Kerstin

No, I don’t do that. But I think that is also

Nein, das tue ich nicht. Aber ich glaub dass hat

(00:37:49-1)

a question regarding the requirements I

auch mit meinem Standard mittlerweile zum

have by now. Could have been when I was

Tun. Vielleicht hätt' ich's mit 20 gemacht. Nein,

20. No, thank God I was never on that

ich war Gottseidank nie so auf der Schiene

track. I believe that is a personal trait

oben. Das ist aber ein Persönlichkeitsmerkmal -

anyway … I mean, of course I am happy

meine ich, oder ... Also, natürlich bin ich auch

when I save some money – don’t get me

froh wenn ich mir was ersparen kann - nicht

wrong – but when I go on holidays – well,

falsch verstehen - aber wenn ich Urlaub fahre -

holidays is the wrong word –for me

oder Urlaub ist das falsche Wort - Reisen ist für

traveling is luxury, something that’s not

mich trotzdem ein Luxus, der muss nicht sein.

required. It’s beautiful, but it’s luxury, and I

Es ist wunderschön, aber es ist ein Luxus, und

can’t understand that some people go

ich kann's nicht verstehen, dass manche Leute

traveling without money and think they can

ohne Geld reisen gehen, und dann noch

live at your expense.

verlangen dass dich wer durchfüttert.

Karl

Most of the times it’s something like

Meistens ist es ... Bier trinken gehen, essen,

(00:46:52-6)

having a beer, or eating, maybe cook

vielleicht zusammen kochen, (überlegt)

something together. Sometimes – but it

manchmal, aber es kommt darauf an - viele

depends – many hosts don’t want to walk

Gastgeber wollen das eigentlich nicht ihre Stadt

around their city and look at stuff, because

irgendwie ... herumgehen und das anschauen,

they don’t care – they see it every day. For

weil das ist denen wirklich wurscht - das sehen

them it is more about the conversation

sie eh jeden Tag. Denen ist eher - für die ist

with you, because they also enjoy different

eher interessant das Gespräch mit dir ...

thoughts and something new. And, yeah –

(überlegt) weil sie halt auch die Freuden an

most of the times it’s something like going

unterschiedlichen Gedanken, an was Neuem

out, or meet for a coffee, or go and see

haben. Und (überlegt) also, das ist meistens so

where they work, eat together, things like

was wie Fortgehen, oder so was wie sich auf

that.

einen Café treffen (überlegt) oder eben in die Arbeit kurz mitgehen, und da halt kurz mitschauen oder zusammen essen, solche Sachen.

Stefan

That is the key aspect, yes. And if it’s

Das ist dann der Schwerpunkt, ja. Und

(00:16:33-5)

something, where I have not been either, I

(überlegt) wenn's irgendwas ist, wo ich selber

am of course more interested that I go

noch nicht war, bin ich natürlich mehr daran

there or do something – because somehow

interessiert dass ich dort hinfahre oder das

you also get to know your own area better.

angehe - weil man lernt irgendwie die eigene

Because you usually don’t do stuff like that.

Umgebung auch besser kennen. Weil sonst tut

Take the tourist’s viewpoint on the city or

man das ja oft nicht. Als Tourist einmal die

the neighbourhood to see what you can do.

eigene Stadt betrachten, oder eigene

And that are the moments where I get a

Umgebung, was man da tun kann. Und, da

chance to do such things.

komm' ich eigentlich auch dazu.

What I had when I was surfing myself – if I

Eben. Oder was ich auch gehabt hab, wenn ich

Dagmar


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

(00:32:51-3)

17

can cook something Austrian – a typical

halt wo bin - ob ich halt was von Österreich

dish. That’s something I really like doing.

kochen kann - ein typisches Gericht. Das mach

Other than that – festivals happening at

ich eigentlich gerne. Ansonsten, so Festivals die

that time – in a park, on the street – where

sind - in einem Park, in einer Straße - so zum

you can go to ... Or day trips to the lake,

Hingehen, oder auch Ausflüge zum See der ein

which is a little bit further, or to a beach

bisschen weg ist oder zum Strand der in der

that is close. I mean, often it is like things

Nähe ist. (überlegt) Also oft eigentlich so

you would do with friends, when you’re in

Sachen die man glaub ich einfach mit Freunden

the area, and not so much sight seeing. It’s

machen würde, wenn man da in der Gegend ist,

more about hanging out together.

und nicht so sehr Sight-Seeing in dem Sinn. Mehr Chillen irgendwie.

Johann

Other people show you their workplace.

Andere Leute zeigen dir - nehmen dich

(00:35:38-0)

That was also quite interesting. David for

teilweise mit in die Arbeit, das war auch ganz

example – he was an architect – and also a

interessant. Der David hat mir damals zum

dancing master, and the evening I arrived

Beispiel - der war Architekt - und nebenbei war

he gave dancing lessons in his house where

er noch Tanzlehrer, und an dem Abend wo ich

he had an own ballroom. And so I joined

angekommen bin, hat er - er hat im Haus einen

them for a little bit. And also next morning:

eigenen Tanzsaal gehabt - und dann hat er da

we went to a house, which he was building

gerade eine Tanzklasse gegeben, und dann hab

at that time, and showed me around there.

ich dort ein bisschen mitgemacht. Und am

It was really cool - just to see what people

nächsten Tag in der Früh genau so. Da hat er

do for a living and not only how the place

mir - da sind wir zu einem Haus gefahren, dass

is from a tourist’s point of view, but to see

er gerade gebaut hat, und hat mir das auch noch

what people do who live there.

gezeigt, das war total cool. Einfach zu sehen, was die Leute so in ihrem Leben machen, und eben nicht nur den Ort - wie der ist vom touristischen her, sondern auch was die Leute die da wohnen, was die machen.

Ansuela

Yes, absolutely. Like the musicians – the

Ja, genau. Oder eben die Musiker - die

(00:30:58-4 AND

Argentineans. They were awesome when

Argentinier. Die waren ein Hit, wie die gespielt

00:29:27-0)

they played, and it happens quite often that

haben, und ... es hat schon ganz oft irgendwer

someone grabs the guitar and sings. I do

die Gitarre in der Hand gehabt und hat

like it a lot and we have so many

gesungen. Weil ich mag das gern und es stehen

instruments standing about. Or Jason – he

so viele Musikinstrumente bei uns herum. Oder

was a pianist and musician – and played the

der Jason - der war ein Pianist - ist ein Musiker

piano for me. And then there were 2 totally

- und hat am Klavier gespielt für mich. Und

funny guys – one of them was an opera

(überlegt) dann waren 2 irrsinnig witzige - der

singer and the other one a musical singer –

eine war Opernsänger und der andere war

and then they gave a performance for us. I

Musicalsänger - und dann haben sie uns eine

also like it when I learn something new

Performance gegeben ...

from the CouchSurfers – when there’s

AND:

something to learn. There was an

Ich lerne auch ganz gern was von den

American, who had been sushi chef for 2

CouchSurfern. Wenn es irgendwas zum Lernen

years and prepared the sushi in front of the

gibt. Da war eine Amerikanerin, die war 2 Jahre


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

18

customers, and when I asked her, she gave

Sushi-Chefin, und hat Sushi vor den

as a 6-hour workshop on making sushi.

Kundschaften gemacht, und hat auf meine Bitte

One Swiss, she was dancing master for

hin, uns dann einen sechs-stündigen Workshop

oriental dance, and each evening she was

im Sushi-Kochen gegeben. Eine Schweizerin

here she taught me oriental dance.

war Tanzlehrerin für orientalischen Tanz, und hat mir jeden Abend wo sie da war, hat sie mir orientalischen Tanz beigebracht.

Lisa

But then, for example: Hamburg, the

Aber dann zum Beispiel: Hamburg, Hamburger

(00:29:29-3)

harbour – I now remember, with the

Hafen - da kann ich mich jetzt gerade erinnern,

CouchSurfer – we took the bike ... well, he

eben mit dem CouchSurfer - sind wir mit dem

lent me a bike, and we cycled through the

Rad ... also, er hat mir ein Rad geliehen, und wir

city, and he then for example showed me

sind dann durch die Stadt gefahren, und er hat

where to get the best fish sandwiches, and

mir dann zum Beispiel die besten

such things – those you probably won’t get

Fischbrötchen von der Stadt empfohlen, und

when you read tourist information

solche Dinge - auf die kommst du

brochures, or such things ... you won’t get

wahrscheinlich wenn du

that, because the local people know these

Touristeninformationsbroschüren liest, oder

things much better.

irgendwas ... wirst du nicht kommen, weil die lokale Bevölkerung solche Dinge viel besser weiß.

Bernhard

And there are CouchSurfers who showed

Oder es gibt CouchSurfer die mir geile Plätze in

(00:09:20-1 AND

me awesome places here in Innsbruck,

Innsbruck gezeigt haben, weil wir einfach

00:33:44-7)

because we just strolled through the city

stundenlang durch die Stadt gewandert sind. So

for hours. This way I got to know the city

hab ich eigentlich die Stadt viel besser

much better and by now I have done about

kennengelernt, und habe mittlerweile sicher

15 tours for CouchSurfers. And I get better

schon 15 Touren für CouchSurfer gegeben.

at it … One example: the Argentineans

Und ich werde auch immer besser dabei.

absolutely wanted to visit a museum and I

AND:

said: yeah, just let us go. So we went to the

Wir waren einmal ... die Argentinier wollten

folklore museum and I had a look at

unbedingt in ein Museum gehen, da hab ich

Tyrolean tradition and so on, which I had

dann gesagt: ja, gehen wir halt. Dann sind wir

not known before either. It wasn’t a 100

ins Volkskundemuseum gegangen. Da hab ich

percent interesting for me, but they – when

mir so Tiroler Traditionen angeschaut, die ich

they saw the Krampus masks – it totally

auch noch nicht gekannt habe. War jetzt für

blew their minds. And I was just standing

mich nicht hunderprozentig interessant, aber sie

there: what, that is? O.k., right, that is

- wie sie die ganzen Krampusmasken gesehen

impressive. Or the dirndl dresses and

haben - dass hat ihnen so gut gefallen. Und ich

everything, they totally liked it in that

bin halt dabei gestanden: was, das ist? o.k.

museum.

stimmt, das ist beeindruckend (Lachen) Oder die Dirndln und alles, das hat ihnen voll gut gefallen im Museum.

Lukas

I mean, most of the time a standard tour

Nein, eigentlich (überlegt) meistens, die eben ...

(00:48:09-8)

for tourists – we start from our place,

die Standard-Touri-Runde - von uns losgehen,

across the Murinsel, up Schlossberg, and show

über die Murinsel drüber gehen, einmal auf den


Management Center Innsbruck| Master Thesis | Gerhard Pilz

19

them all that stuff. In the evening we sit in

Schlossberg rauf, und dann halt so die

the park, or we go out together. Maybe

Geschichten zeigen ... am Abend in den Park

play some board games at home, in case

sitzen, oder am Abend fortgehen. Vielleicht

you have someone who is crazy for board

daheim einmal eine Runde Brettspiele spielen

games, but other than that ‌ go for

oder so, wenn du irgendjemanden hast der

concerts or stuff like that, yes. Everything

Brettspiel-verrĂźckt ist ... aber, sonst ...

that lends itself to the moment we’re in.

irgendwelche Konzerte gehen oder so, ja ... was sich halt gerade anbietet.


The Long Tail of Tourism: Consumer Behaviour of CouchSurfers