Amazon last night rolled out a new travel site it’s calling Amazon Destinations, which focuses on helping customers find “getaway destinations” within driving distance of their homes. Currently, Amazon Destinations features hotel selections in three U.S. metro areas: L.A., New York and Seattle, the company says.
This is not the first time that Amazon has dabbled in the travel arena, however – previously, Amazon Local offered customers flash deals and other deep discounts on hotel stays in the range of 40%-60% off. But with Amazon Destinations, Amazon has increased the selection of its hotels, which are handpicked by the company for inclusion on the site. It has done this by moving away from the earlier discount model, and is now posting hotels’ published rates instead. This gives Amazon the opportunity to work with more hotels on an ongoing basis, explains Skift, which was first to note the new site’s launch.
The hotels listed today on Amazon Destinations include those found in popular travel and tourist spots, like the Adirondacks, Catskills, Hamptons, or Jersey Shore in the NYC metro area, for example; or the Cascades, Portland, Puget Sound, Washington Coast and more in the Pacific Northwest; as well as other Southern California hotspots like Palm Springs, Santa Barbara, Central Coast and the Southern California mountains, among others.
Amazon explains that the goal of the new site is to help travelers easily plan and book local trips. “More than 40% of all U.S. domestic leisure trips are short-term getaways of 1-3 nights, and many of these trips are to nearby, drivable destinations,” spokesperson Tom Cook says. “However, 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 declined to say if or when it was expanding Amazon Destinations to reach other U.S. metro areas, but it would make sense for the company to do so in the future, assuming it finds traction with Amazon’s user base. In addition, the site is already set up to collect user reviews about the hotels it features, which potentially could make the service a competitor to other travel sites or local review sites, like TripAdvisor, Expedia or Yelp.
The move comes at a time when Amazon has been expanding its offerings to consumers to stretch further into their daily lives – going beyond the physical goods they have shipped to their door, or the digital items they access online or download. Most recently, the company branched out into local services with the launch of Amazon Home Services, a marketplace which connects customers with various local professionals.
For now, Amazon Destinations is housed under the larger Amazon Local brand, which still today functions as Amazon’s Groupon competitor, offering a wide range of deals from various shops, restaurants, bars, clubs, and other online and offline properties. The new service is available both online and in the Amazon Local mobile app.