Despite the recent roar surrounding Amazon’s reported plans to launch a travel site, Orbitz and Expedia have nothing to sweat from the online retail giant.
“The [initial] Skift article and subsequent stories that were published led to big misperceptions,” says Tom Cook, Amazon’s public relations manager. “We are not launching a competitor travel site.” Instead, the site is simply continuing to build its existing travel services — which started back in 2012. “The media is a few years late to the game reporting it, but it’s not new.”
Amazon initiated partnerships with hotels and resorts near major cities such as Seattle, LA, and New York through Amazon Local for customers to find nearby weekday and weekend getaway deals. It’s really no different than finding a good deal on a new grill or ski goggles, and among travel sites, resembles Groupon’s Getaways travel section. A key difference is that destinations are based on your location, not where you’re aiming to go.
Keeping discounts and deals local for hotels and customers was the driving force behind the travel market business venture two years ago and continues to be so now, just with more attention as Amazon partners with more resorts and hotels, adds Cook.
“We’re continuing to reach out to more hotels to provide the best deals and services,” says Cook. “Those hotels started talking about the partnership, which is why I guess it took this long to hit the media.”
Amazon has simply done what most companies do after a new business deal sees success: expand. Cook declined to give specific partnership numbers, but acknowledged that it’s in the hundreds now. This is not as shocking or exclusive as other reports made it out to be, but the existing site is good start for anyone itching for a weekend escape. And while the deals are through Amazon Local, you can always type in the zip code of a less-local destination if your sights are set further from home.