Abstract

This article discusses how tourism companies can change practices and thereby innovate employee–tourist encounters, changing them from traditional service encounters to encounters that focus on creating experiential value for tourists. The article combines service innovation, practice, and experience economy theory. The analysis is based on a multiple qualitative service innovation field experiment in five Danish tourism companies. The experiments showed how front-line employees in tourism companies could act as creative experts in innovation processes that focused on developing new reflective encounter practices aimed at experiential value creation. However, the experiments also illustrated how a number of factors influenced the process, including a trust-based organizational environment, an organizational setup in which front-line employees’ ideas could be developed and shared, organizational structures and mind-sets that supported front-line employees’ reflective practice, as well as more specific “rooms” for creativity, such as facilitated workshops. Conversely, strong service mind-sets acted as a barrier to change towards experience-focused encounter practices. The article suggests new strategic approaches to innovation practices in tourism companies. Involving front-line employees in innovation processes becomes central for tourism companies that want to go beyond service production and create new experiential value.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTourism Analysis
Volume24
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)55-67
Number of pages13
ISSN1083-5423
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019

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