Amazon is apparently exiting the travel business, only months after testing the waters with its hotel booking resource, Amazon Destinations. The site, first launched in April, was focused on helping Amazon shoppers in select markets find “getaway destinations” for weekend getaways – that is, hotels located within driving distance of the customer’s home. But now the site informs visitors that as of yesterday, October 13, Amazon has flipped on the no vacancy sign
The site’s closure was first spotted by The Seattle Times. Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, of course, had been one of the first cities supported on the hotel-booking platform. At launch, the service offered hotel rooms in Seattle, L.A. and New York, and then later expanded this summer to also include parts of the Southeast U.S., Texas Gulf Coast, and Northern California, as well as Boston’s metro.
Four months after going live, the service was reaching 35 cities, Amazon said at the time of its last expansion. Now, around a half year later, the site is gone for good.
This was not Amazon’s first foray into the travel arena. The company had previously offered Amazon Local customers flash deals and discounts on hotel stays. The new site, then, was meant to formalize the arrangement between the retailer and hotel partners by offering a larger listing of hotel deals. The company was handpicking the hotels featured on the Destinations website, but had moved away from Amazon Local’s discount model. The idea was that Amazon could work with hotels on an ongoing basis, while targeting the somewhat untapped niche in the travel space involving domestic leisure trips. Meanwhile, the hotels would supposedly benefit by being able to tap into Amazon’s reach.
In addition to closing the Amazon Destinations website, the company says that it has stopped selling reservations in the Amazon Local app, as well.
However, if customers had already booked a reservation via the site, it will still be valid and will be honored by the hotel. Customers won’t have to take any action, despite the site’s closure.
Amazon’s entry into the hotel booking business could have been interesting, had it thrived. The site was already set up to collect user reviews about the hotels it was featuring, which could have made the service a competitor to other travel sites or local review sites like TripAdvisor, Expedia, or Yelp.
The company has not offered a reasoning behind the shutdown at this point, but it’s likely that the site wasn’t finding the traction Amazon had hoped.
“We have learned a lot and have decided to discontinue Amazon Destinations,” is all an Amazon spokesperson would say. (Perhaps what it learned was that customers don’t think of Amazon as a place to book hotels?)
The launch had come around the same time as Amazon was attempting to expand its footprint into people’s daily lives, including with the debut of Amazon Home Services, a marketplace which connects customers with various local professionals. That site is still live, and available in a number of major cities throughout the U.S.