chapter  9
12 Pages

Behaving appropriately: Managing expectations of hosts and guests in small hotels in the UK


The main theme of this chapter is that the home construct, as a distinguishing characteristic of the commercial home (Lynch 2005c: 535), significantly influences the behaviour of owners and paying guests in these establishments. Here, the commercial home is conceptualised as ‘ … the private home as a site of commercial hospitality provision’ or ‘hotel-home’ hybrid (Di Domenico and Lynch 2007a: 118). It is further contended that commercial home owners, as hosts within the hospitality relationship (Guerrier and Adib 2000: 266), effectively manage their own and guests’ behaviour within their homes, through flexible and autonomous use of emotional labour (Harris 2002; Hochschild 1983). They do this by adroitly operating within and across the three domains of hospitality; social, private and commercial (Lashley 2000a). The dual lenses of emotional labour and hospitality thus provide a powerful cross-disciplinary framework through which the complexities of host and guest behaviours in commercial homes can be better understood. The chapter draws on twenty commercial homes selected from a wider

study of over twenty-five small and large hotels in a major UK resort. This sample of twenty conforms to the definition of the ‘commercial home’, as ‘types of accommodation where visitors or guests pay to stay in private homes, where interaction takes place with a host and/or family usually living upon the premises and with whom public space is, to a degree, shared’ (Lynch 2005c: 534). As small hotels, this sample are categorised as ‘traditional commercial homes’ (Lynch and MacWhannell 2000) and have eleven bedrooms or less (Lynch 2005c). In all cases, hosts live on the premises (with partner and family if applicable); the hotel thus comprising both private home and commercial business. The hotels are run by the owner(s), with any staffing being on a casual basis, for example to help with cleaning and preparing the bedrooms. Space is used flexibly according to the owner’s personal needs and financial circumstances; for example, the number of bedrooms that are let or retained for personal use, and the extent to which guests share the lounge. Guests mostly include a mix of business travellers and holidaymakers whose stay is generally between one and fourteen nights. However, some guests are longer-term, for example students and contract workers.