Amazon Enters the Travel and Tourism Market

Amazon DestinationsAmazon has quietly entered the online travel agent space that’s currently occupied by giants like Booking.com, Airbnb and Expedia, which acquired Orbitz earlier this February. From The Wall Street Journal:

The new service allows hotel owners more flexibility in terms of price, including listing rooms at regular rates, not just package deals or other deep discounts. The hotels also are featured more prominently on their own Amazon page, rather than being mixed in with the site’s various other travel deals.

Amazon has been low-key about the launch. The site went live shortly before midnight Seattle time on Monday, and Amazon didn’t prepare a formal news release.

Amazon’s service currently has listings for mostly independent hotels located in the Northeast, southern California and the Pacific Northwest. One hotel owner described Amazon’s entrance into the market as game-changing because Amazon already has an “intimate knowledge of its customer’s spending habits and preferences” and can target travel offers to you that you might actually want. An Amazon spokesperson says that Amazon’s main focus will be appealing to locals looking for short weekend getaways; the offers I see so far on the site are for places a short drive away from me: The Catskills, The Poconos, The Jersey Shore. Since it’s brand new, the listings are also lacking the collection of reviews left by travelers on sites like Booking.com, which can be a major component for vacationers trying to figure out where to stay. Amazon, perhaps aware of this, says it sent people to each property listed on its site to make sure they meet a level of quality that’s satisfactory to them. My impression so far is that it’s not really doing anything too different than what the big booking sites are already doing. If Amazon wants to be competitive, it’ll have to do what it does best: offer some deep discounts.

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