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Innovation and service experiences in small tourism family firms

Birgit Pikkemaat (Department of Strategic Management, Marketing and Tourism, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria, and Director of the Institute for Innovative Tourism, Innsbruck, Austria)
Anita Zehrer (MCI Management Center Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria)

International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research

ISSN: 1750-6182

Article publication date: 3 October 2016




This paper aims to explore the pertinent issues of innovation and service experiences in family firms in the tourism industry, which are mostly small- and medium-sized enterprises.


The conceptual paper, building on social identity theory, undertakes a thorough review of the relevant literature before developing propositions regarding innovation and service experiences for small family firms in the tourism industry.


Small tourism family firms are faced with deficits in strategic orientation and innovation, and cooperation seems to be a means to overcome size deficits in family-run businesses. Customers integrated into the service experience enhance innovative developments and foster innovation in small tourism firms. As a prerequisite, the service experience must be appropriately managed by collecting and evaluating relevant data on customers’ needs, expectations and satisfaction. An open-minded and consumer-focused market-driven strategy seems to be an advantage.

Practical implications

Future research should undertake empirical studies to validate and/or modify the propositions presented in this conceptual paper.


This is one of the few studies to have addressed the relationship between service experiences and innovation for family-run small businesses in the tourism industry.



Pikkemaat, B. and Zehrer, A. (2016), "Innovation and service experiences in small tourism family firms", International Journal of Culture, Tourism and Hospitality Research, Vol. 10 No. 4, pp. 343-360.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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