Amazon Tackles the Hotel Market

Will Amazon soon be your go-to site for hotel bookings? Consumer advocate Ed Perkins investigates.

Trade sources report that Amazon is expanding its hotel booking business in a big way. Although it has offered extreme markdowns on limited numbers of hotels for some time, the new move will apparently be into the mainstream of competitive-price bookings.

Amazon is apparently starting small, around the first of the year, with an initial focus on hotels within the extended New York City, Los Angeles, and Seattle areas. As with other booking agencies, Amazon’s postings will include editorial content about destinations and activities.

For now, the extended program will post roughly the same prices you would see on Booking.com, Expedia, or any other major hotel-search online travel agency (OTA). (Amazon and the other big OTAs apparently take 15 percent to 20 percent off the top when they book hotels. That’s a big bite.) The only differentiating point, at least so far, is that hotels will accept Amazon local discount credits for all or some of the purchase price.

Given Amazon’s tremendous clout in the marketplace, its program certainly competes with the established OTAs. Beyond acceptance of discount vouchers, however, it remains to be seen if and how Amazon will become a go-to hotel buying site or just one of the gang. We’ll keep you posted.

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By Ed Perkins

A nationally recognized reporter, writer, and consumer advocate, Ed Perkins focuses on how travelers can find the best deals and avoid scams.

He is the author of "Online Travel" (2000) and "Business Travel: When It's Your Money" (2004), the first step-by-step guide specifically written for small business and self-employed professional travelers. He was also the co-author of the annual "Best Travel Deals" series from Consumers Union.

Perkins' advice for business travelers is featured on MyBusinessTravel.com, a website devoted to helping small business and self-employed professional travelers find the best value for their travel dollars.

Perkins was founding editor of Consumer Reports Travel Letter, one of the country's most influential travel publications, from which he retired in 1998. He has also written for Business Traveller magazine (London).

Perkins' travel expertise has led to frequent television appearances, including ABC's "Good Morning America" and "This Week with David Brinkley," "The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather," CNN, and numerous local TV and radio stations.

Before editing Consumer Reports Travel Letter, Perkins spent 25 years in travel research and consulting with assignments ranging from national tourism development strategies to the design of computer-based tourism models.

Born in Evanston, Illinois, Perkins lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife.

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