“All of my friends, they love these stories,” Riccardo tells Business Insider over beers in a quiet bar in Midtown Manhattan. I’m like, ‘You know, whatever, we went out, had sex...’ They’re like, ‘No, no, no—tell me when she got there, where you went, did you kiss her, every single detail.’” We had the same questions.
“My first Couchsurfing hookup happened when I was staying with my friend in Miami,” Riccardo recalls. Months later Riccardo got a phone call from the same girl, asking if she could stay at his place in New York City. “I never talked to her again,” he admits, adding, “I mean, we’re friends on Facebook.” Couchsurfing was born after a budget-conscious traveler named Casey Fenton sent out a mass request for accommodations in Iceland and received 50 invitations from students with a free spare futon.
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Today, each of the site’s 7 million members has a unique profile which reads like a personal ad, highlighting interests, locations traveled, details about their accommodations and, most important, references.In eight months using the service, Riccardo, who is 32 and works for an ad agency, has let eight visitors crash at his apartment, of whom he’s hooked up with five, for a 62 percent “success rate.” If you count the additional two who climbed into bed with him for a cuddle and then fell asleep, the percentage climbs even higher.(Riccardo and other Couchsurfing users quoted in this article asked to be identified by pseudonyms.) On the business front, the crowdsourced hospitality site has been experiencing a rough patch lately.“We went out for drinks the first night,” he says, “and I hit on her. She, was like ‘No, no, no—I don’t want to make it awkward.’ I was like well, whatever, so we kept on drinking, dancing, and having fun.” Riccardo later learned he’d made a critical error.Experienced couchsurfing casanovas know to hold off on making a move until later.