This paper aims to review the state of the art for the Tourism Review special issue on “Business Models in Tourism”. The authors’ purpose is twofold: first, to contextualize the empirical and conceptual contributions featured in the special issue in relation to the state of research on business models in tourism. Second, the authors position the special issue in the broader scholarly conversation on business models to identify avenues for future research.
The authors systematically review the content of tourism-specific business model studies from leading literature databases to answer four questions relevant for future work on business models in tourism: First, how do tourism scholars define the business model concept? Second, what is the ontological stance (object, schema or tool) of existing studies of tourism business models? Third, what are the methodological preferences of existing work on business models in tourism? And finally, what qualifies as rigorous business model research?
From the critical review of 32 contributions, the authors identify a minimal consensus and dominant approach to conceptualizing the business model concept in tourism studies. In addition, the authors reveal a strong preference for small-n case study research designs. In sum, those findings point to important gaps and design decisions for future business model studies in tourism.
This review of the state of research on business models in tourism details research opportunities with regard to theory, methods and applications that tourism scholars can investigate to contribute to the theory and practice of business model management.
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