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The Albergo Diffuso Model: Backcover, Acknowledgment and Contents

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The hospitality model called “Albergo Diffuso” (“scattered hotel”) has been described by The New York Times as a way of bringing life back to historic towns and rural hamlets by utilizing unused rooms for tourism. This ‘simple but genial’ model devised in Italy in the mid-90’s has been awarded by the UNDP for its sustainability, but despite the AD’s spread, no peer-reviewed books have previously been published in English focusing on this innovation. The book’s first chapter therefore explores the AD as a community-based hospitality model, examining both its pros and cons. Chapter two considers the ‘conviviality’, ‘sense of security’, and other factors Enzensberger referred to as ‘luxuries of our time’ for urban dwellers, representing the key pre-requisites a location must possess to be evaluated as suitable for this innovation. Chapter three provides investors with a structured framework to help them achieve a ‘defensible’ competitive advantage through the harnessing of the economic potentials of Valuable, Rare, Inimitable, and Non-substitutable (VRIN) resources. Lastly, chapter four assesses the AD as a Business Model, evaluating various aspects at the root of any Business Plan.




Introduction, page 1

The Albergo Diffuso as an original model for hotelier hospitality 7

2.1 Similarities between the AD and the earliest hospitality models 7
2.1.1 The horizontal distribution of hospitality rooms 8
2.1.2 The strategic role played by the hosting community 10
2.1.3 The gift-oriented culture 11

2.2 The AD within the general debate on alternative development models 11
2.2.1 The AD versus other vertical hospitality models 12
2.2.2 The AD versus other horizontal hospitality models 14
2.2.3 The AD within the academic debate 17

2.3 The birth of the name “Albergo Diffuso” 25

2.4 From the brand name to the hospitality model 28

2.5 Key numbers and laws 31

2.6 The services offered 34

2.7 Thematic specializations 36

2.8 Purposes 37

2.9 Promotion and sales 38

2.10 Conventional analysis of the hospitality model 39
2.10.1 Strengths 39
2.10.2 Weaknesses 43
2.10.3 Opportunities 44
2.10.4 Threats 47

2.11 Potential impact 48
2.11.1 The general-holistic approach 49
2.11.2 The atomistic approach 50
2.11.3 The dynamic-relational approach 51

2.12 Case studies 54
2.12.1 The case of Corte Fiorita AD Bosa, Sardinia, Italy 54
2.12.2 The case of Yakageya Inn and Suites AD, Okayama Prefecture, Japan 57

Rural hamlets: Basic requirements for setting up the hospitality model 60

3.1 The AD model as a resource-based hospitality model 60

3.2 Exploring urban–rural interactions for sustainable tourism development purposes 61
3.2.1 Fear of street crime 62
3.2.2 Loneliness 65
3.2.3 Poor work-life balance 67
3.2.4 Light at night (LAN) pollution 69
3.2.5 Environmental noise pollution (ENP) 71
3.2.6 Relatively low availability of green spaces 74
3.2.7 Air pollution (AP) 76

3.3 The countryside as a possible resource for human health and well-being 77
3.3.1 Sense of security 79
3.3.2 Conviviality 80
3.3.3 Lack of stress factors 81
3.3.4 Darkness at night (DAN) 81
3.3.5 Silence at night (SAN) 82
3.3.6 Accessibility of available green spaces in the countryside 83
3.3.7 Clean air to breathe 84

3.4 The research for a hospitality model promoting longevity 85

3.5 Case studies 89
3.5.1 The case of Sauris-Zahre AD, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy 89
3.5.2 The case of Slow Valley AD, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy 92

Analyzing resources for sustained competitive advantage:
A resource-based theory approach 96

4.1 Historical premises of resource-based theory 96

4.2 Edith Penrose’s seminal contribution 97

4.3 Synergies existing between a traditional management approach and RBT 99

4.4 The concept of the productive resource 100

4.5 Resource and organizational heterogeneity 102

4.6 Main organization’s resources 103

4.7 The RBT kernel: “competitive surviving” and “sustained” competitive advantage 104

4.8 Resources’ analysis model: the VRIN-O model 105
4.8.1 Resources’ valuability and competitive parity 106
4.8.2 Resources’ rarity and temporary competitive advantage 108
4.8.3 Resources’ inimitability 108
4.8.4 Resources’ non-substitutability 109
4.8.5 Resources’ organization process 110

4.9 Applying the VRIN-O model: key benefits 111
4.9.1 First-mover advantage 111
4.9.2 Entry barriers 112
4.9.3 Mobility barriers 112
4.9.4 Following mainstreams 113
4.9.5 Firms’ resource acquisition 114
4.9.6 Resource development 115
4.9.7 Resource extra value and profit appropriation 116
4.9.8 Knowledge-based view 118
4.9.9 The natural-resource-based view 120

4.10 Assessing the main RBT critiques 122

4.11 Case studies 125
4.11.1 The case of Locanda degli Elfi AD, Preit, Piedimont, Italy 125
4.11.2 The case of Porrentruy AD, Jura, Switzerland 128

The AD as a business model 131

5.1 The business model concept and its key elements 131

5.2 The AD’s business model 135
5.2.1 Key resources 135
5.2.2 Key segments 140
5.2.3 Value propositions 144
5.2.4 Distribution channels 147
5.2.5 Relationships 151
5.2.6 Activities 157
5.2.7 Key partners 170
5.2.8 Cost centers 176
5.2.9 Revenue streams 180

5.3 Case studies 188
5.3.1 The case of Scicli AD, Sicily, Italy 188
5.3.2 Evaluating the economic feasibility of an Albergo Diffuso: the
case of ”X“ municipalities 190

Conclusions 193

Reference 197
List of figures 233
List of tables 234
About the author 235



Dealing with the way in which an innovation, such as the AD, satisfies emerging tourism markets is no easy task. Firstly, I wish to thank Mr. Giancarlo Dall’Ara for his valuable help in revising an early draft of Chapter 1 that focuses on the AD hospitality model he himself engineered, and for encouraging me in studying further innovations embedded in the model since the mid 1990s. I fervently hope that the description I have provided of this model of hospitality is concise, exhaustive, and innovative enough to satisfy his prescriptions.
I want to thank all of the Managers and Staff of Alberghi Diffusi, the Mayors of municipalities which host an AD, the Investors, Consultants, and others, who I omit to name simply for reasons of brevity, for affording me the great privilege of assisting them in the setting-up of a sustainable tourism development process through the establishment of pilot-projects in this field, over the last two decades.
I would also like to thank Professor Luca Iseppi at the University of Udine in Italy, Professor Lorena Bašan at the University of Rijeka in Croatia, Professor Esther Munyri and the research Staff at the Kenyatta University in Kenya, Professor Giovanna Bertella at the Arctic University of Tromsø in Norway, Professor Kazem Vafadari at the Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University in Japan, Professor Rigoberto Lopez at the University of Connecticut in the United States, and, finally, all of the anonymous reviewers at De Gruyter for their enthusiasm in supporting the preliminary studies, for giving their valuable suggestions, for assisting me to improve the book contents, and for highlighting additional directions for the research.
Last but not least, I want to thank any readers of this book in advance who wish to share their opinions regarding the issues discussed in this book, give their feedback on its contents, or feel motivated to partner strategically in order to address any of the issues even more productively, who can send an e-mail to:
As usual, any residual errors of this book must be attributed to the author alone.
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