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Welcoming Strangers : a study about digitalized hospitality visuals of Airbnb and Couchsurfing dwellings

Puzanova, Anna LU (2020) MKVM13 20201
Media and Communication Studies
Department of Communication and Media
Abstract
We live in a digitalized world where visuals are as essential to us as they have never been. Tourism and hospitality are not an exception here but rather examples of huge dependence on visual culture. Due to the fast spread of digital technologies, new forms of virtual mobilities have been intensified including services for choosing accommodation on digitalized platforms. Airbnb.com and Couchsurfing.com represent such service of renting out a place from a local person for a short-term period. It has created a phenomenon of strangers being welcomed in other people’s dwellings.
The thesis focuses on the role visuals, uploaded to Airbnb and Couchsurfing websites, play in depicting culture of hospitality, mode of address and imagination. The... (More)
We live in a digitalized world where visuals are as essential to us as they have never been. Tourism and hospitality are not an exception here but rather examples of huge dependence on visual culture. Due to the fast spread of digital technologies, new forms of virtual mobilities have been intensified including services for choosing accommodation on digitalized platforms. Airbnb.com and Couchsurfing.com represent such service of renting out a place from a local person for a short-term period. It has created a phenomenon of strangers being welcomed in other people’s dwellings.
The thesis focuses on the role visuals, uploaded to Airbnb and Couchsurfing websites, play in depicting culture of hospitality, mode of address and imagination. The thesis pursues dual aims. Primary aim is centered on the empirical results and focuses on understanding digitalized hospitality visuals and the range of meanings these visuals connote. Empirical results are derived from digital images of apartments uploaded by hosts to Airbnb and Couchsurfing platforms. Secondary aim contributes to the method development by testing an existing visual method and developing a new more detailed visual framework applicable to images with objects in the area of hospitality and tourist mobilities.
The findings show that the images turned out to be more than just apartments for rent. They evolve as places meaning that their identity is affected by the sense of personal possession and belongings. Nevertheless, there are some meanings which are hidden from a viewer if not looking closely. Data derived from visual analysis revealed the presence of the metaphor ‘bed and breakfast’. This metaphor confirmed the identity of accepting guests depicted on the images. Findings also reveal that the interior and decoration say a lot about the way the rooms ‘gaze’ at a viewer and ‘stream’ viewer’s imagination. The position of objects in the images attracts viewer’s attention to the things hosts want to reveal publicly as well as to the items hosts prefer to remain hidden. Decoration contributes to creating a certain feeling and atmosphere of the rooms leading to the mind travelling of a viewer. Although these images are publicly visible and available for accepting strangers, there is still a limitation to such hospitality when the privacy is depicted not only in the images but also in the way of accessing these images as one has to sign in the website and leave some personal information before being able to see them. (Less)
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author
Puzanova, Anna LU
supervisor
organization
course
MKVM13 20201
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
tourism, hospitality, Airbnb, Couchsurfing, digital media, visual analysis, visual culture of hospitality, privacy, metaphors, viewer’s gaze, work of imagination, aestheticization
language
English
id
9009212
date added to LUP
2020-06-08 09:29:04
date last changed
2020-06-08 09:29:04
@misc{9009212,
  abstract     = {We live in a digitalized world where visuals are as essential to us as they have never been. Tourism and hospitality are not an exception here but rather examples of huge dependence on visual culture. Due to the fast spread of digital technologies, new forms of virtual mobilities have been intensified including services for choosing accommodation on digitalized platforms. Airbnb.com and Couchsurfing.com represent such service of renting out a place from a local person for a short-term period. It has created a phenomenon of strangers being welcomed in other people’s dwellings.
The thesis focuses on the role visuals, uploaded to Airbnb and Couchsurfing websites, play in depicting culture of hospitality, mode of address and imagination. The thesis pursues dual aims. Primary aim is centered on the empirical results and focuses on understanding digitalized hospitality visuals and the range of meanings these visuals connote. Empirical results are derived from digital images of apartments uploaded by hosts to Airbnb and Couchsurfing platforms. Secondary aim contributes to the method development by testing an existing visual method and developing a new more detailed visual framework applicable to images with objects in the area of hospitality and tourist mobilities.
The findings show that the images turned out to be more than just apartments for rent. They evolve as places meaning that their identity is affected by the sense of personal possession and belongings. Nevertheless, there are some meanings which are hidden from a viewer if not looking closely. Data derived from visual analysis revealed the presence of the metaphor ‘bed and breakfast’. This metaphor confirmed the identity of accepting guests depicted on the images. Findings also reveal that the interior and decoration say a lot about the way the rooms ‘gaze’ at a viewer and ‘stream’ viewer’s imagination. The position of objects in the images attracts viewer’s attention to the things hosts want to reveal publicly as well as to the items hosts prefer to remain hidden. Decoration contributes to creating a certain feeling and atmosphere of the rooms leading to the mind travelling of a viewer. Although these images are publicly visible and available for accepting strangers, there is still a limitation to such hospitality when the privacy is depicted not only in the images but also in the way of accessing these images as one has to sign in the website and leave some personal information before being able to see them.},
  author       = {Puzanova, Anna},
  keyword      = {tourism,hospitality,Airbnb,Couchsurfing,digital media,visual analysis,visual culture of hospitality,privacy,metaphors,viewer’s gaze,work of imagination,aestheticization},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Welcoming Strangers : a study about digitalized hospitality visuals of Airbnb and Couchsurfing dwellings},
  year         = {2020},
}