Exploring Host and Guest Value Co-Creation in the Tourism Sharing Economy: The Case of Ho Chi Minh City
Visitors are increasingly participating in the tourism sharing economy in order to experience local culture and engage with local communities. While most studies about the sharing economy (SE) in tourism focus on the peer-to-peer accommodation dimension, very few address other activities shaping tourist experiences. The focus of this doctoral research is to gain a deeper understanding of how value is co-created between hosts and guests in the tourism sharing economy. The research focuses on the relatively understudied context of urban tourism in developing settings, investigating host and guest value co-creation in the tourism sharing economy in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. There has been limited theoretical discussion about the sociocultural aspects of the tourism sharing economy. This doctoral study adopts service-dominant logic, social construction theory and consumer culture theory to explain the tourism SE through experiences and practices. Experiences refers to the way that participants perceive and understand their value outcomes gained through tourism activities. Practices refers to actions that host and guests undertake as part of tourism SE activities in urban settings. Semi-structured interviews, participant observation and focus groups are employed to understand host and visitor contributions to value co-creating practices and to interpret their sense-making of valuable experiences. The research design features an innovative approach to data, where the researcher assumed the role of host and created a home dining experience on the tourism SE platform (TSEP), EatWith. Guests participated in cooking activities and later took part in a focus group. This enabled the researcher to gain self-reflexivity by identifying how the host perceives, interprets and experiences their world. The findings show that value co-creation within the tourism SE is not limited to the host-guest relationship, but also includes local service providers and the broader host community. Guests have the opportunity to interact with local residents and gain insight into their daily lives. The thesis also shows that effective use of TSEPs can accelerate the intensity of the host-guest relationship. The specific steps of engagement that are involved in a specific social practice are illustrated. The research adds distinctive theoretical and methodological contributions to the current literature on the tourism SE. The research achieves three objectives: (1) to identify the nature and types of value co created between hosts and guests in the tourism SE; (2) to determine the elements of the value co-creation process; (3) to examine how practices and experiences challenge and complement each other in value co-creation given that they are two dimensions of this process. A critical contribution to the body of knowledge in the tourism SE is the presentation of a new conceptual framework based on empirical evidence that supports a nature of host–guest engagement during the value co-creation process. From an applied perspective findings from the research provide insights that can help hosts, guests, developers of SE platforms and local suppliers to enhance the experiences of hosts and guests. The research also presents several practical implications for destination management organisations (including Ho Chi Minh City’s tourism authorities), increasing their awareness of the tourism SE and its actual and potential influence on sustainable local development.