Skift Take

In the school of online travel hard knocks, new entrants have learned that barriers to entry can be substantial. Amazon, Google, and Airbnb should realize that the devil is in the details, and the complexities.

Amazon has started a soft launch of virtual experiences so Jeff Bezos' e-commerce behemoth will undoubtedly expand into offline tours and activities, and steal a chunk of competitors' businesses. GetYourGuide, Viator, Klook, Expedia, and, you'd better cash in your chips now, and run for cover. Well, not so fast. As officials at Amazon,, Airbnb, Vrbo, and GetYourGuide would undoubtedly concede, online travel is a lot harder to execute in practice than it often appears from the outside. The barriers to entry in sectors such as vacation rentals, hotel booking, and tours and activities are ones that have often humbled executives of big travel companies who found a seeming opportunity too enticing, and then learned some hard lessons when a bitter taste set in. Amazon Launched a Hotel Booking Service in 2014 Consider Amazon's fraught experiences over the years as a hotel-booking company. For many years, hotel bookings have been the engine that drove the growth of big players such as and Expedia, so Amazon debuted its own hotel-booking service — the latest of serveral attempts in travel, actually — around November 2014, but dropped the idea wit