Travel sites could be about to have a very unhappy new year. Amazon is set to enter the travel business. It says Amazon has been working with independent hotels and resorts in and around major cities to prepare its new Amazon Travel service. The site claims Amazon Travel could launch as early as January 1, 2015 with hotel options in New York, Los Angeles and Amazon’s home town of Seattle. Amazon’s plan is apparently to allow hotels to post room listings on its site with availability, pricing and photos, charging them 15 percent commission on bookings. Skift’s loose-lipped hotelier sources says Amazon has been selecting places based on their TripAdvisor ratings.
Soon, travelers may be able to buy their luggage and their hotel reservations with a single visit to Amazon. The Seattle-based company is planning to launch a new travel service that will compete with Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz and others, according to a report by Skift. Citing interviews with hoteliers who had been asked to join the new service, the report said that Amazon plans to launch the travel marketplace around New Year’s Day. At first, it will only feature a curated list of hotels “within a few hours’ drive” of San Francisco, Seattle, New York and Los Angeles. People looking to book other travel services like airline tickets would still have to turn elsewhere, at least for the time being. The travel service could be a huge boon for independent hotels that don’t have the massive marketing budgets of large chains like Marriott or Hyatt. By providing one curated space for those smaller hotels, Amazon could drive its large customer base to spaces that wouldn’t ordinarily get large amounts of interest. Amazon will take a 15 percent commission on all pre-paid bookings, and hotels will offer their rooms at standard rates (though they are free to discount them). Pages on Amazon Travel will include editorial content about attractions near the hotels, as well. The curatorial aspects are similar to what Expedia is doing with its new tablet app, which features collections of destinations based around certain categories.