Sleeping with Strangers: Redefining experiences in a CouchSurfing world
Abstract: This thesis seeks to examine the relationship between authenticity and co-creation in regards to tourism experiences. In order to explore the relationship between the two phenomena, the visitor/host interaction facilitated through CouchSurfing, an international online hospitality network, is used. This thesis focuses on the analyses of tourist experiences, drawing from narratives provided by interviewees. A sample of CouchSurfers were asked to share and elaborate on their opinions, and beliefs about CouchSurfing. From my findings I determined that authentic experiences are intimate, and most often involve interaction with local people. Authenticity and intimacy work concurrently with each other, meaning that when intimacy is experienced between host/guest, the experience feels more authentic and vice versa. It has been concluded that Co-creation helps make an experience authentic. Tourists and locals are linked through emotions and connections that arise from interaction together. Intimacy allows for meaningful co-creation, and meaningful co-creation way to authentic experiences.
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