During the past decade, the tourism accommodation sector has dramatically changed with the emergence of innovative lodging products such as Airbnb, guesthouses, and non-traditional hostels. With the internet-based platform and people’s ease in lending ...
During the past decade, the tourism accommodation sector has dramatically changed with the emergence of innovative lodging products such as Airbnb, guesthouses, and non-traditional hostels. With the internet-based platform and people’s ease in lending their properties, alternative accommodation businesses have grown explosively. It is often argued that the experience of guests staying in alternative accommodations is fundamentally different from the conventional options such as hotels and motels. Accordingly, researchers have tried to define the non-traditional accommodation sector with limited success in reaching a consensus. Building on this definition, this study defines alternative accommodation as a non-traditional subgroup of the accommodation sector offered as a direct alternative to hotels and motels for customers, the use of which is facilitated through internet and e-commerce, and not distinguished by the particular tangible or services attributes of the operation.
Meanwhile, small and medium-sized alternative accommodations are primarily operated by micro-entrepreneurs who usually lack their own websites or information channels outside of third-party intermediaries. Yet, by examining the leading online travel agencies (OTAs) or similar online platforms that provide information and/or booking services for the said accommodation facilities, identical customer rating items, usually comprising cleanliness, staff, facilities, location, comfort, and price, are applied to the evaluation criteria regardless of the accommodation types.
To bridge this gap, this study aims to address the critical attributes of alternative accommodation facilities that are distinctive from the traditional lodging options by means of qualitative approach, after which can be utilized for improving validity and accuracy of user evaluation. Findings of analysis identified five distinctive attributes for alternative accommodation types: H2G interaction, G2G interaction, neighborhood, atmosphere, and flexibility. Each attribute was meta-interpreted, as listed in Table 2. Specifically, H2G interaction is distinguished from established staff service when customers expect personalized service from hosts of alternative accommodation. G2G interaction has seldom been mentioned in conventional accommodation environment, but is suggested as an important factor in alternative accommodation types. As internet has changed the tourism environment, individuals take proactive online and offline interactions. Neighborhood is linked to the willingness of physical and psychological interaction with the community while travelling. Atmosphere that allows unconstrained social interaction without obligation is an environmental attribute enabling and facilitating other attributes. Flexibility is customers’ autonomy supporting environment with less regulations or restrictions. These unique attributes in alternative accommodation could reflect demands of customers who seek homely accommodation when travelling, while supporting their desired roles of active participants and at the same time, controllers of experience.
The expert panel interview allowed further polishing and adding the depth of the initial pool from the meta-interpretation. Novel tourism perspective such as community-based tourism (CBT) or fair tourism gazes the neighborhood in a different lens. For small-sized alternative accommodation properties, safety can be extended to the intangible category encompassing financial stability, legality, and morality of the business, from a one-dimensionality of physical safety. The use of OTA imposes some new challenges such as information technology and system issues as well as controllability of customer experience in the booking process before staying and reviewing process after staying. Valence and image consider such representation.