In a city famed for its expensive accommodation, a website encouraging users to welcome travellers into their homes is rapidly gaining popularity. The city is New York – one of the most wealthy cities in the world – and the website is CouchSurfing.com – a free project aimed at providing free housing and accommodation for international travellers and low-cost globetrotters.
The median price of a hotel room in Manhattan is approximately $200 – a figure that prompts many of the city’s million monthly tourists to look outside the city’s central districts. But while hotels and serviced apartments demand high prices from tourists, a growing number of young travellers choose to put their comfort, and occasionally their safety, at risk by staying at a couch-surfer’s home.
New York City is one of the most popular destinations on CouchSurfing.com – a website that now boasts over two million users worldwide. The website has cornered a market in compassion-driven accommodation, with users sharing their living rooms, extra bedrooms, and couches with travellers from all corners of the globe.
Over three million positive experiences are reported on the website – a simple way of measuring whether a housing experience was good or bad. While obvious safety risks do exist, the majority of the website’s users seem aware of the risks and all-but completely happy with them, claiming that theft is rare and violent crime almost completely non-existent due to simple online reporting.
While we suspect that CouchSurfing.com may not overtake the Intercontinental when it comes to revenue, the website is a classic example of social networks overriding a previously closed world. New York City’s expensive hotels will continue to attract high-end travellers in droves, but it looks like those on the lower end know where the best deal is – on the couch.