chapter  1
22 Pages

Introduction

ByPAUL A. LYNCH, ALISON J. McINTOSH AND HAZEL TUCKER

The hotel has been the dominant paradigm that has long determined, and served as, a commercial accommodation role model. Its counterpoint, the private home, is often represented as the antithesis to the hotel (Douglas 1991; Ritzer 1993). Recently, however, the commercial home enterprise has been proposed as a distinctive alternative to both the hotel and the private home whilst simultaneously acknowledging hotel and private home influences (Lynch 2003; 2005a; 2005b; 2005c; Lynch and MacWhannell 2000). As such, the commercial home constitutes a fusion of the commercial, social and private domains of hospitality proposed by Lashley (2000a: 5): commercial, i.e. ‘the provision of hospitality as an economic activity’; social, i.e. ‘the social settings in which hospitality and acts of hospitableness take place together with the impacts of social forces’; private, i.e. ‘issues associated with both the provision of the “trinity” [food, beverage, accommodation] in the home as well as considering the impact of host and guest relationships’. The commercial home paradigm has thus emerged to challenge the primacy of the hotel paradigm and gives recognition and greater prominence to one of the most frequently occurring forms of commercial accommodation, including homestays, bed and breakfasts, farmstays, self-catering accommodation, guesthouses and small family hotels. Small commercial accommodation has typically been studied through three

lenses of entrepreneurship. The first lens is that of the small business or small firm where the size of the organisation is usually the main distinguishing feature (Ateljevic 2007; Carr 2007; Thomas 1998). This approach is helpful in being sensitive to the scale of the operation and its individual features rather than assuming it is a smaller version of a larger organisation and uncritically applying concepts derived from the study of the larger organisations. Problems with the small business approach include sector differences and various views on the concepts of ‘small’ or ‘micro’ (Morrison 1998a; Morrison and Conway 2007; Peacock 1993; Thomas 1998). The second lens is that of the family business where the family ownership is the main distinguishing feature and therefore can shed light on the significance to the

running of the organisation of the people element through making prominent family goals, life cycles and interrelationships (Getz and Carlsen 2000; Getz, Carlsen and Morrison 2004). Such an approach is not size-sensitive and gives prominence to the family unit. The third lens employed is that of the lifestyle entrepreneur (Ateljevic and Doorne 2000; Morrison et al. 2001; Di Domenico 2003). The importance of this approach is in rejecting the primacy of the profit-making motivation and giving recognition to the significance of owner values and life aspirations in determining economic performance of the commercial operation. However, empirical evidence regarding the actuality and realisation of desired lifestyle as opposed to a discourse of lifestyle (whether the discourse is created by respondents or researchers is not always clear) is largely missing from the hospitality and tourism literature. All three approaches are influenced by organisational studies undertaken outside of the hospitality sector and seek to provide a comparatively large-scale discourse to explain types of mainly small commercially oriented organisations. In effect, they have been ‘imported’ and imposed upon the study of small commercial hosting accommodation. A newer, fourth, lens is thus that of the commercial home enterprise; in its

origin, specific to the study of small accommodation enterprises viewed from a hospitality perspective. This lens is influenced by reflection upon the strengths and limitations of the preceding lenses, as well as consideration of previous studies within hospitality and tourism that have sought to capture the essential features of small accommodation enterprises. A number of terms have been employed by researchers to describe small accommodation enterprises so that their quintessential dimensions are captured: ‘parahotel business’ (Schwaniger 1989), ‘supplementary accommodation sector’ (Seekings 1989), ‘boutique accommodation’ (Morrison et al. 1996), ‘specialist accommodation’ (Pearce and Moscardo 1992), ‘quasi hotels’ (Slattery 2002) or ‘homestay’ (Lynch 2000a) to name a few. Such descriptors attempt to provide an umbrella term for small commercial lodgings that either seem to aspire to copy hotel-type accommodation or to describe a form of accommodation letting that serves as counterpoint to a typically hotel benchmark. However, there is a lack of agreement regarding the types of accommodation being described and the descriptors largely emphasise the functionality of the lodging without necessarily conveying any deeper sense of its nature. The emergence of the commercial home paradigm is empirically grounded in forms of small commercial accommodation and unifies conceptual characteristics, notably that of the home.