In a sign of its commitment to its growing hotel business, Amazon appointed Tim Lane, an ex-Expedia lodging-operations vice president, to the new position of general manager of Amazon Destinations.
Lane has been director of Amazon Local sales and operations since August 2013, after having left Expedia a few months earlier, and was working on Amazon Local’s burgeoning hotel program.
With Lane now in place as general manager, Amazon has redesigned its Amazon Destinations pages and doubled its hotel coverage from three to six metro areas, and from 17 to 35 destinations within driving distance of those metro areas.
Supplementing hotels in the Pacific Northwest, Southern California and the Northeast, which Amazon rolled out in April, Amazon has added Southeast (Atlanta), the Gulf Coast (Houston) and Northern California (San Francisco) to its hotel portfolio.
In its Northeast metro region, which had largely focused on properties within driving distance of New York City, Amazon has added Boston-area hotels to the mix.
When Skift exclusively reported in November 2014 that Amazon was getting serious about and ramping up its hotel business, critics said we were wrong or that Amazon was doing nothing new.
Previously Amazon Local had offered only highly discounted hotel rates but now Amazon Destinations, the name of the new hotel offering, enables hotels to sell their rooms through Amazon at published rates so they can participate on an ongoing basis.
Lane says there are “hundreds of hotels” in the six metro areas now participating in Amazon Destinations.
The Road Ahead
But Amazon is signing up these properties at a very deliberate pace — one property at a time. A salesperson visits each property before they come on board in a bid to get the product right.
Perhaps this is all a precursor to Amazon establishing partnerships with hotel aggregators to ramp up the program at scale.
Amazon is also working on its own API, which would enhance connectivity options for aggregators and brands.
Google is far along in making these sorts of moves.
Google, for example, established a partnership with Sabre, which has ties to 20,000 properties, in Google’s quest to enable consumers to book properties without leaving Google search, maps and Google+.
AccorHotels.com established a direct-connect with Google to bring its 21 brands into Book on Google.
Amazon hasn’t taken the aggregation or direct-connect routes for major hotel brands yet but you can expect that to take place at some point after Amazon Destinations finds its footing.
The Priceline Group’s Booking.com years ago discovered a business model and technology system to quickly onboard hotels and that enabled it to establish a dominant position in hotel bookings.
But although Expedia is tacking on online travel agencies, including Travelocity, Wotif and Orbitz Worldwide, with the latter the subject of an antitrust review, competition in the hotel-booking sector is heating up with the emergence of TripAdvisor as a booking site, Google’s Book on Google initiative, and now Amazon’s still-fledgling moves at muscling up its hotel offerings.
In addition to Amazon Destinations increasing its metro areas and appointing a general manager, it also redesigned its pages, emphasizing larger images.
Here’s a previous Amazon hotel page:
Here’s the top of a redesigned hotel page: