A profile-based approach to social exchange: Tour-guiding authenticity in the sharing economy

Endrit Kromidha, Martin Gannon, Babak Taheri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Authenticity in travel and tourism research is often explored at the tangible-existential nexus. However, the collaborative forces embedded within digital sharing economy platforms draw attention to how the promise of social exchange can stimulate authentic consumption. The role of tour guides has changed accordingly, from professional designation to self-acquired identity enacted ad-hoc. This study therefore applies a deductive-inductive approach - investigating over 100,000 tour guide profiles on the digital sharing economy platform showaround.com - to frame authenticity as the diverse manifestation of promised social exchanges. Combining automated qualitative analysis for large datasets with manual inductive reasoning, the findings identify four types of authenticity demonstrated within sharing economy tour guide profiles: situational, natural, personal, and positional. This extends established understanding of tangible-existential and sincere-trustworthy tourism industry authenticity by capturing social exchanges in dynamic contexts; acknowledging the diverse nature of the promise of authentic tourism service delivery and consumption therein.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Travel Research
Early online date9 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Dec 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • sharing economy
  • authenticity
  • social exchange theory
  • tour guides


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