The travel & tourism industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by a greater desire from consumers for personalised offerings that heighten the traveller experience. Delivering this requires the collection and effective use of large amounts of personal data and this has significant cybersecurity implications. Technologies such as artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, the internet of things, and cloud solutions are all growing in importance. In the last three years alone, there have been over 15,000 patents filed and granted in the travel & tourism industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Innovation in Travel: Reservation system automation.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

20+ innovations will shape the travel & tourism industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the travel & tourism industry using innovation intensity models built on over 21,000 patents, there are 20+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, travel plan optimised charging and robo taxis are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Real-time ticket inventory management, LBS social networking, and smart itinerary planners are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are virtual touring interfaces, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for the travel & tourism industry

Reservation system automation is a key innovation area in travel & tourism

Automated reservation systems are capable of processing bookings from a range of platforms and syncing them in one system. This is especially important in the era of online travel agents as bookings can come from multiple sources. An automated system speeds up the booking process by automatically generating confirmation numbers and sending them to guests or passengers.  By removing the manual element of traditional booking management, these systems reduce the scope for human error. The data collected and processed can also help with personalised offerings and more effective marketing messaging.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 100+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established travel & tourism companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of reservation system automation..

Key players in reservation system automation – a disruptive innovation in the travel & tourism industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to reservation system automation

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Didi Global 188 Unlock company profile
Toyota Motor 123 Unlock company profile
Flex 115 Unlock company profile
Nuro 113 Unlock company profile
Walmart 110 Unlock company profile
Live Nation Entertainment 77 Unlock company profile
Emerging Automotive 71 Unlock company profile
Uber Technologies 63 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 62 Unlock company profile
Apple 55 Unlock company profile
Ford Motor 46 Unlock company profile
Lyft 37 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 35 Unlock company profile
West View Research 32 Unlock company profile
Honda Motor 31 Unlock company profile
General Motors 31 Unlock company profile
Nissan Motor 29 Unlock company profile
BookIT Finland 29 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 29 Unlock company profile
Amadeus IT Group 27 Unlock company profile
Via Transportation 25 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 24 Unlock company profile
Sony Group 24 Unlock company profile
Crawford Group 23 Unlock company profile
Nikon 23 Unlock company profile
Yamaha Motor 21 Unlock company profile
Gula Consulting Limited Liability Company 20 Unlock company profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 19 Unlock company profile
Siemens 19 Unlock company profile
Modaxo 19 Unlock company profile
TESLA LABORATORIES 18 Unlock company profile
LG 18 Unlock company profile
PayPal Holdings 18 Unlock company profile
Denso 17 Unlock company profile
Operr Technologies 17 Unlock company profile
Liberty PlugIns 17 Unlock company profile
Laundry 2.0 16 Unlock company profile
Getaround 16 Unlock company profile
Geotab 14 Unlock company profile
CBRE Group 14 Unlock company profile
SoftBank Group 14 Unlock company profile
Global Payments 14 Unlock company profile
Geely Holding Group 13 Unlock company profile
GT Gettaxi 13 Unlock company profile
StubHub 13 Unlock company profile
Expedia Group 13 Unlock company profile
Mitsubishi Electric 12 Unlock company profile
Avis Budget Group 12 Unlock company profile
SAP 12 Unlock company profile
eBay 11 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

Innovation in reservation management automation is characterised by the involvement of a diverse set of companies. Ridesharing companies such as Didi, Uber, and Lyft are actively filing for patents in this area, registering 188, 63 and 37 patents since 2015, respectively. Tech companies such as Alphabet, Amadeus and IBM are also active, but while travel & tourism service providers are not among the most active filers, they are most certainly present. Among such companies, Expedia and Airbnb rank highest having applied for 13 and five patents each since 2015. These numbers are noticeably lower than those of tech players, suggesting a possible preference for buying or licensing solutions developed and provided by third-party specialists.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the travel & tourism industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Key Themes in Travel and Tourism for 2023.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.