This paper discusses tourism innovation developed by hosts of sharing accommodation, based on the outcomes of guests’ value co-creation. In this process, relationship marketing is a central aspect of peer-to-peer business models, analysed as a catalyst of innovation. The authors conducted thirty in-depth interviews with Portuguese hosts of Airbnb accommodations in order to understand the integration of guests’ value co-creation through relational mechanisms in the innovation of their businesses. The results evidence that it is established a close relationship marketing with guests during their stay. This fact is considered critical for the co-creation of the tourism experience and to increment innovation in the accommodation services. The main innovation outcomes are incremental and connected to the provided facilities, amenities and partnerships with other businesses. This happens not only through the user generated contents of online reviews, but also with the constant interpersonal contact established between guests and hosts.
Peer-to-peer online platforms have created new business models and brought changes in the way customers feel and express experiences. In tourism, and particularly local sharing accommodation, peer-to-peer online platforms have created a new dynamic of relationships and trust between guests and hosts, who are under mandatory reviews of each other’s, as part of the business model (Moon, Miao, Hanks, & Line, 2019; Prayag & Ozanne, 2018). Interaction with hosts is a key motivation for those who look for a shared accommodation, in order to live authentic experiences and face loneliness (Farmaki & Stergiou, 2019; Paulauskaite, Powell, Coca-Stefaniak, & Morrison, 2017), with consequences in the intensification of interpersonal communication (Bridges & Vásquez, 2018). Considering the phenomenon of co-creation of value in customer-tocustomer platforms (Rihova, Buhalis, Gouthro, & Moital, 2018), guests take an active role in the experience (Bridges & Vásquez, 2018; Moon et al., 2019). Online reviews, besides influencing future prospects (Pelsmacker, Tiburg, & Holthof, 2018; Tsao, Hsieh, Shih, & Lin, 2015), may also be seen by hosts as important assets for value co-creation, paving the way for open innovation in their accommodation businesses. In this sense, the need to constantly delight customers in a rising competitive sector and the management of personal and online reviews as a constructive issue may facilitate the open innovation attitude by managers, as a process to better provide better solutions for customers (Souto, 2015).