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Amazon closes its hotel booking site, Amazon Destinations – TechCrunch

Amazon is apparently exiting the travel business, just months after testing the waters with its hotel booking resource, Amazon Destinations. The site, which first launched in April, aimed to help Amazon shoppers in select markets find ‘getaway destinations’ for weekend getaways, i.e. hotels located within driving distance of the customer’s home. But now the site informs visitors that since yesterday, October 13, Amazon has lit the no vacancy sign

The site’s closure was first spotted by the Seattle Times. Amazon’s hometown of Seattle was, of course, one of the first cities supported on the hotel booking platform. When it launched, the service offered hotel rooms in Seattle, Los Angeles and New York, then expanded this summer to also include parts of the southeastern United States, the Gulf Coast of Texas and northern California, as well as the Boston metro.

Four months after going live, the service reached 35 cities, Amazon said in its latest expansion. Now, about a year and a half later, the site is gone for good.

This wasn’t Amazon’s first foray into travel. The company previously offered Amazon Local customers flash deals and discounts on hotel stays. The new site was therefore intended to formalize the agreement between the retailer and the hotel partners by offering a wider list of hotel offers. The company was handpicking hotels featured on the Destinations website, but had moved away from Amazon Local’s discount model. The idea was that Amazon could work with hotels on an ongoing basis, while targeting the somewhat untapped niche of the travel space involving domestic leisure travel. Meanwhile, hotels would supposedly benefit from being able to tap into Amazon’s reach.

In addition to shutting down the Amazon Destinations website, the company says it has also stopped selling reservations in the Amazon Local app.

However, if customers had already made a reservation through the site, it will still be valid and will be honored by the hotel. Customers will have nothing to do, despite the closure of the site.

Amazon’s entry into the hotel reservation business could have been attractive had it flourished. The site was already set up to collect user reviews of the hotels it featured, which could have made the service a competitor to other travel sites or local review sites like TripAdvisor, Expedia or Yelp.

The company hasn’t offered a reasoning behind the shutdown at this point, but it’s likely the site hasn’t found the traction Amazon was hoping for.

“We have learned a lot and have decided to discontinue Amazon Destinations,” is all an Amazon spokesperson would say. (Perhaps he learned that customers don’t consider Amazon a place to book hotels?)

The launch came around the same time that Amazon was trying to expand its footprint in people’s daily lives, including the launch of Amazon Home Services, a marketplace that connects customers to various local professionals. This site is still online and available in a number of major cities in the United States.