Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Most Fashionable Way to Travel

One Couch at a Time

About CouchSurfing

When traveling it is most important to pack the perfect bathing suit, remember sunscreen, and have a couch to crash on. A non-profit social media website,, connects travelers from Antarctica to Italy making the world a better place, “one couch at a time.” Transcending international borders, CouchSurfing is an easy to use website which enables its users to both host travelers in their own home, or journey abroad and couch surf in another member’s home. CouchSurfing is an inclusive organization, and even users without couches available for hosting are invited to join.

The Beginning

Couchsurfing began when creator Casey Fenton received a ticket for a weekend in Iceland with nowhere to stay. Not simply content to play the role of a typical tourist and stay in a hotel, Casey set out on a search for a couch to spend the night. He spammed over 1500 Icelandic students in Reykjavik looking for a place to stay. Following some email exchanges and a crazy weekend away, Casey vowed never to follow the tourist path again. From only one weekend in Iceland, CouchSurfing was born. Since, there have been over 1.25 million travelers who have followed in Casey's CouchSurfing shoes. In 2003, Fenton and several willing volunteers launched the site in beta. Version 1.0 was made live in 2004, with Version 2.0 following in 2006.


Why it’s Exceptional

To date, the member supported and community driven global community singlehandedly sustains the website. It is the work of volunteers who improve the website and spread the mission. There is no fee for membership or use of the social media network. Users wishing to give back to the service for their experiences are asked to donate their time to the site for a specific project or as an ambassador, or make a membership donation for site maintenance.There have been a reported 3.2 million positive experiences, which translates to 99.6 percent success rate.

Traveling abroad and rooming with a near stranger poses some potential risks. However, Couchsurfing works to take the risk out of travel with references, verification, vouching and ambassador status. For its safety procautions, Couchsurfing remains a means of trusted travel. The following icons appear on profiles of members deemed to be trusted CouchSurfers:

Verification: This icon indicates that a member has had their name and address verified.

Vouching: This icon indicates that a member has been vouched for.

Ambassador: This icon indicates that a member is a CS Ambassador.


Couchsurfing provides for its members an interface so simple to use, that even a beginner user could easily navigate the site. Members of this social media site can instantly connect with users around the world, creating an international network of travelers. Users create an account by signing up with a one page questionnaire. Once an account has been opened, CouchSurfers can create their own highly personal profiles. There they can provide general information, upload pictures, state preferences (ex. no smoking), describe couch sleeping arrangements, add friends, include a personal biography, and list references.

The website also includes CouchSurfing statistics, testimonials from users, a list of online members, and random CouchSurfers profiles to browse.



Online Users

Some Random CouchSurfers

User Demographic

Young or old, Canadian or Scandinavian, CouchSurfing targets a demographic of world travelers who embrace the spirit of adventure. Members of the Couchsurfing network are asked to “open their homes, their hearts, and their lives.”

PR Use

Couchsurfing provides for PR practioners a unique opportunity to monitor trends in travel, and identify new hot spots. For this reason, Couchsurfing proves to be an invaluable tool to both its member users and the public relations field.


For as long as travelers continue to travel, CouchSurfing will likely survive. Through the use of this easy to navigate website, members can cross borders, continents and oceans with just a click of a button. Emphasizing the importance of community, CouchSurfing is exemplary of a true social media network.

A Word to the Wise

Now that your bikini and sunscreen are packed, with just a click of the button you are ready to jet set in style. Five star accommodations were completely last season, this fall CouchSurfing is the only fashionable way to travel.


  1. good work

    most the headlines made this a joy to read

    dovetailed this into your pb well, like the "perfect bathing" suit lead ... although, I must confess that the notion has never, ever occurred to me :)

    there is a narrow focused post on Trust to be had here ... that is the value prop more than anything else IMHO

    luv couch surfing so it is tough to be objective here

  2. add "safe" before word couch in the lead and you would start to draw the trust thread through the post more

  3. links out to Casey's twitter account or to the actual profiles of the couchsurfers or testimonials or naming them in the post would have helped them connect with you