The travel and tourism industry remains a hotbed of innovation, with activity fueled by a greater consumer desire for personalized offerings that enhance the travel experience. The need to provide an experience has increased as younger cohorts seek more than just a vacation and trends like transformative travel are on the rise. This has put tourism companies and attraction operators under pressure to deliver, and investing in innovation is a key part of the answer. Technologies like machine learning and big data analytics have helped personalize offers, while virtual and augmented reality have enabled companies to enrich their marketing materials and engage travelers during the inspiration and planning stages. In the last three years alone, more than 15,000 patents have been filed and granted in the travel and tourism industry, according to GlobalData’s virtual reality report in Travel: Virtual Touring Interfaces.
According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 21,000 patents to analyze the intensity of innovation for the travel and tourism industry, there are more than 20 areas of innovation that will shape the future of the industry.
Virtual tour interfaces is an important area of innovation in virtual reality
Virtual tours allow companies to go far beyond the traditional means of high-quality static images and videos and truly inspire the potential traveler or guest, transporting them to the hotel or location through a semi-immersive VR tour that allows them to travel from to experience from afar. While it cannot replace the feeling of being physically there, it is not intended to. It is intended to persuade the traveler to book such a trip. This technology, along with augmented reality, came to the fore during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when travel restrictions limited the ability to travel but people still wanted to plan their next trip. Virtual tours were the perfect middle ground.
GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activities across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are more than 10 companies, including technology providers, established travel and tourism companies, and emerging startups, engaged in the development and application of virtual tour interfaces.
Key players in virtual tour interfaces – a disruptive innovation in the travel and tourism industry Industry
“Application Diversity” measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent, and broadly classifies companies as either “niche” or “diversified” innovators.
“Geographical Scope” refers to the number of different countries in which each relevant patent is registered and reflects the breadth of intended geographic application, ranging from “global” to “local”.
What is immediately striking when looking at which companies are requesting IP protection in the Virtual Touring Interface space is that players from across the travel and tourism spectrum are evident. Attraction operator Universal Studios has filed the most patents since 2015, followed by Airbnb. The large cruise line Royal Caribbean is also in the top ten, as is the travel IT specialist Amadeus. Royal Caribbean has applied for protection for innovations related to virtual reality dining, a virtual reality trampoline, and an augmented reality tour guide, demonstrating the diverse possibilities for virtual tour interfaces. This area hasn’t escaped the attention of global tech giants, with Microsoft and IBM filing 12 and nine patents, respectively, since 2015.
To better understand the top issues and technologies disrupting the travel and tourism industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Virtual Reality (VR) in the travel and tourism industry (2021).