The research presents the combination of insights from development practices of sustainable tourism and Open Innovation approach. The aim is to unlock new knowledge on how customer can influence the translation of sustainable innovation within small accommodation enterprises. Among these, it is relevant the role played by "alberghi diffusi", defined as an authentic experience of the Italian life style, and recognized as an innovative and sustainable accommodation typology. The analysis is based on ten multiple case studies drawn from the Italian context. The paper contributes to a better understanding of innovation processes in the "albergo diffuso" formula and to a deeper evidence-based understanding of the role of customers in the development of services and practices focused on sustainable principles.
Keywords: Customer Engagement, Open Innovation, Sustainable Tourism, Tourism Innovation, Small and Medium Enterprise, Albergo Diffuso, Value co-creation.