The social practice of care hotel vacations
van Charante-Stoffelen, Marleen
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Due to the increase in the number of elderly and people seeking medical care, the hotel market with a blend of care and leisure experiences is expected to grow in the future (Han, 2013; Karuppan & Karuppan, 2010; Laesser, 2011). The role of care hotels as an intersection between the care and the tourism sectors makes a vacation in a care hotel an interesting social practice to study. In this contribution a social practices approach (Spaargaren, 1997) is applied to investigate how demand and supply interact during a care hotel vacation. Semi-structured interviews are used to identify successful and less successful interactions or practices between senior guests and personnel in five Dutch care hotels. These interactions are related to materials (care and leisure facilities), competences (skills and empathy of the personnel) and meanings (motivations and aspirations of guests) in the care hotel practice (see Shove et al., 2012). The results show that a social practice approach combined with a qualitative research method may be more suited to analysing the complex encounters between guests and personnel during care hotel vacations than more traditional theories from service or experience quality studies. Simultaneously, this study makes clear that we need to develop alternative qualitative (and/or quantitative) research methods to study more privacy-related or intimate practices or rituals as in the case of care hotels.