Home Amazon Rolls Out Destinations To Help You Plan Weekend Trips

Amazon Rolls Out Destinations To Help You Plan Weekend Trips

Amazon knows what you buy, what you watch and even which of your home appliances need repair. Now it wants to know how you spend your weekends away. The company just added Amazon Destinations, a new service designed to help Amazon customers find nearby places for quick jaunts close to home. 

Though wrapped up as part of Amazon Local, the company’s Groupon and Living Social rival service, Destinations won’t serve up deep discounts from local businesses. Rather, the travel service will focus on corralling hotel options (at their regular prices), along with links to restaurants and other attractions.

The approach, first spotted by Skift, guarantees Amazon has plenty of hotel inventory, since it won’t have to strong arm businesses into slashing prices. Hotels also incorporate Amazon’s user review model, letting customers review their experiences or vote on the helpfulness of other people’s reviews.

Of course, Yelp does something similar—though it frequently finds itself in hot water over its user-reviews and rather opaque ratings system. Amazon, on the other hand, has largely managed to avoid similar controversies, at least when it comes to user product reviews. Now we’ll see if it holds up for travel reviews.

For the time being, Destinations covers the regions around the Pacific Northwest, Southern California and the Northeast. But if Amazon expands the service, it would push into territory carved out by Expedia, Travelocity, TripAdvisor and a growing array of local travel-oriented sites and apps. 

Where Do We Go From Here?

Amazon’s hardware initiatives have been uneven at best—with a category-defining Kindle e-reader, mildly interesting Fire tablet, a blockbuster Amazon Fire TV stick and last year’s unmitigated flop, the Fire smartphone. Meanwhile, its digital offerings have been firmly mediocre; Amazon Instant Video has become a staple offering on smart TVs and set-top boxes, but suffers from an inferiority complex when it comes to Netflix and Hulu.

That inconsistency could have led Amazon to double down on what it knows best: merging its digital and physical world. That power play has fueled its e-commerce empire since 1995, and likely inspired services from Amazon Local to the new Amazon Home Services, Amazon Dash Button for instant product ordering, and its new Dash Replenishment Service. Destinations looks like just another building block toward Amazon’s long-game, whatever that may be. (We have some ideas, though.) 

For now, Amazon’s strategy comes off a bit like a twisted Santa jingle, blurring the line between helpful services and creepy undertakings: Amazon can see you when you’re shopping, it knows when you hire folks. It knows when you stream Orphan Black, and it knows when you leave home. 

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Photos and screenshots courtesy of Amazon

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