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The emotional labor of the co-created tourism experience


Ek, R and Hardy, A and Larson, M and Ooi, CS, The emotional labor of the co-created tourism experience, The Routledge Handbook of Tourism Experience Management and Marketing, Routledge, S K Dixit (ed), UK, pp. 550-559. ISBN 9780367196783 (2020) [Research Book Chapter]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 the Authors

DOI: doi:10.4324/9780429203916


Demonstrating a cheerful and positive disposition at work has become an expectation in many jobs. This demand is particularly strong for frontline staff members who have to meet customers directly, such as those in the hospitality industry. Maintaining a friendly and helpful demeanor can be difficult, especially when one is having a tough period in other aspects of one's life. Maintaining a charming and happy front is emotional work (Hing 2010, Ooi and Ek 2010).

Emotional labor has for decades been addressed in tourism studies and tourism management. Originally coined by Arlie Hochschild (1979, 1983) the concept has been elaborated upon in relation to tourism and hospitality service work and predominantly been regarded as a clear-cut social interaction between employee and customer with an employer in the background. Through a managerial point of view, emotional labor has been imagined, grasped and understood in more or less instrumental and functionalistic ways. Emotional labor is something that has to formalized in a certain way in order to be addressable from a managerial rationality. However, in contemporary capitalism, with the rise of neoliberalism, the experience economy and the sharing economy, the clear-cut interaction mentioned above is unfolded and rearranged. The employee can as well be his or her own employer, and at the same time find him- or herself regulated by an assemblage of mobile technologies and digital software. The established view on emotional labor as situated within a triangle of employee, customer and employer does not apply in the same way. As a consequence, emotional labor as a societal phenomenon needs to be rethought. To some degree this have been done in tourism studies, but this research is still in its cradle. In particular, there is a lack of more nuanced takes on emotional labor in the tourism experience economy and sharing economy. This chapter offers such a take on emotional labor, highlighting the emotional labor of being an Airbnb host as a case.

The chapter starts with a short introduction to emotional labor and a literature review on how it has been elaborated upon in tourism and hospitality management studies. The next section outlines a societal contextualization and interpretation of emotional labor in the contemporary capitalism. Thereafter, the sharing economy and the case of Airbnb hosting are presented. The chapter finishes of with a conclusive call for further research.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:co-creation, airbnb, emotional labour
Research Division:Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services
Research Group:Tourism
Research Field:Impacts of tourism
Objective Division:Commercial Services and Tourism
Objective Group:Tourism services
Objective Field:Socio-cultural issues in tourism
UTAS Author:Hardy, A (Associate Professor Anne Hardy)
UTAS Author:Ooi, CS (Professor Can Seng Ooi)
ID Code:140073
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Office of the School of Social Sciences
Deposited On:2020-07-23
Last Modified:2021-01-27

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