Amazon is now allowing you to add a hotel room to your shopping cart.
The new travel site called Amazon Destinations is emphasizing local getaways that are within a short drive of your home, with the tagline “Hit the road: Book local getaways.”
In a statement, an Amazon spokesman confirmed the launch, adding that more than 40 percent of all U.S. trips are short-term getaways, ranging from one to three nights. “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,” he added.
The site is launching with limited territory for three metro areas: Los Angeles, New York City and Seattle.
Destinations from Seattle include Suncadia Resort and the Wenatchee National Forest. In New York, customers will see options for The Whiteface Lodge near Lake Placid, and in Los Angeles, destinations include Palm Springs.
This is not the Amazon’s first attempt at entering travel.
Through the Amazon Local brand, it has been selling heavily discounted deals to destinations for some time. This launch is different because it includes published rates, using a standard business model using commissions, Skift reports. By doing this, it gives Amazon more flexibility to work with hotels on an ongoing basis.
While many will view today’s launch as a competitor to Expedia, Priceline and other travel sites, in many ways it is not. First, it has very limited inventory, but secondly, it is not offering the complete packages — customers won’t find airline tickets here. (Investors also don’t seem to be running scared. Following today’s launch, both Expedia and Priceline are trading up slightly.)
Word that Amazon was entering the travel business started circulating back in November when it first started reaching out to hotel management, so today merely marks the official launch.
It’s important to note that while Amazon has been pushing more into local services recently, especially with the launch of Amazon Home Services, these two launches are not related.
Amazon Destinations will be apart of the Amazon Local brand, which operates a website and standalone mobile app that offers daily deals to restaurants, spas, etc. Amazon Home Services, which allows customers to find and book contractors, plumbers and painters online, is part of the company’s marketplaces division, which includes all third-party sellers on its platform.
Amazon Local is a massive undertaking in its own right, having got its start through an early partnership with LivingSocial, thanks to an investment Amazon made in the Washington, D.C.-based company years ago.