Amazon.com Inc. has quietly launched on Monday an innovative travel-reservations service emphasizing weekend retreats within driving distance for three major metropolitan regions, trying to attract shoppers surfing for books or other merchandising goods to reserve a hotel visit.
The company's new platform, known as Amazon Destinations, provides listings of hotels, inns and bed-and-breakfast properties in the Northeast, the Pacific Northwest, and Southern California, including published hotel rates and not just the discounts offered through Amazon Local for many years.
It is already accessible on desktops and in Amazon's mobile applications.
Amazon Destinations' welcome line on the website is: "Hit the road: Book local getaways."
If one hovers over the see all destinations link, it will display different featured destinations that include presently eight in Northeast, five in Pacific Northwest and four in Southern California.
For instance, if a user selects the Pacific Northwest, there are charming hotels in the Cascades, Portland, the Oregon Coast, the Washington Coast and Puget Sound, and the San Juan Islands.
Hotels, such as Montauk Manor, Beach Plum Resort and Driftwood Resort on the Ocean, all located in Montauk, New York, are free to bid both published and discounted rates, special offers and packages. There are suggestions for beautiful area restaurants and its activities.
The hotel booking webpage appearance is comparable to the previous version in Amazon Local although now it also features customer reviews and star ratings.
However, please note that as of the moment, Amazon Destinations does not have any flight travel options as it highlights drive destinations and weekend getaways.
"We created Amazon Destinations to solve a problem most travelers face: how to easily plan and book a local getaway trip," says Amazon spokesperson Tom Cook. "Travelers often have a hard time planning local getaways. It's difficult to know where to go, the process is labor-intensive, and people often miss out on finding great places to stay."
Amazon has been conducting trials with hotel reservations since 2012, when it started posting up to 100 promotional hotel deals everywhere in the US at any given period. The listings were typically from hoteliers considering to fill excess inventory.
Analysts noted that the change reflects Amazon's rising awareness in the highly profitable travel market.
Amazon will be competing with start-up Airbnb Inc., Expedia Inc., Priceline Group Inc., and others for a piece of the online hotel booking market. Tourism in the U.S. is a $960 billion industry, according to researcher IBISWorld.