Time to trade? Perspectives of temporality in the commercial home enterprise
The phenomenon of a temporally or ‘seasonally’ deﬁned tourism economy is a signiﬁcant feature of tourism in many parts of the world, particularly in the cool temperate latitudes such as the fringes of northwest Europe (Baum and Hagen 1999; Getz and Nilsson 2004; Lundtorp et al. 2001). In such places, market imbalances are typically characterised by demand concentration into a short temporal peak, oﬀset by months of surplus capacity in the face of depressed levels of business. The seasonality experienced by service providers is thus part of the landscape of tourism related economic life, often epitomised by the temporal closure of tourism supporting amenities and small businesses. This is especially so in the commercial home accommodation sector which consists of essentially home-based enterprises. In Scotland, much of the tourist accommodation stock comprises bed and
breakfasts, guesthouses, small family-run hotels and self-catering properties in essentially domestic environments. Indeed, so pervasive is the small-scale family-run micro-enterprise in Scottish tourism that it has been described as the ‘cornerstone’ of the country’s accommodation sector (Morrison 1998b:135). Within this context, then, it is highly signiﬁcant that one in six of Scotland’s bed and breakfast and guesthouse establishments close for business at some point during the year, rising to over 40 per cent in January (TNS Travel and Tourism 2005). It would be wide of the mark to suggest that all manifestations of the
temporality of service provision are necessarily derived from market conditions. Indeed, this issue frames the following exploration of temporality in the commercial home enterprise. The aims of the chapter are twofold: The ﬁrst is to examine notions of ‘temporality’ and ‘seasonality’ in the homebased accommodation operation, identifying diﬀerent manifestations of temporality; the second is to explore aspects of the dynamic between motivations and behaviours associated with seasonal trading in the accommodation sector. Particular attention is given to ‘lifestyle proprietorship’ which purportedly aﬀords temporal ﬂexibility in a commercial home environment and a basis for ﬂexible, independently constructed trading patterns.