Amazon and travel

By | Category: Travel rumblings
holidays may, just may, get cheaper if APD is removed from under 12's

Will Amazon be selling family holidays?

It appears that Amazon, better known as a bookseller, has decided to enter the travel market.

Travel trade publications in the US are reporting that the company is talking to tour operators and hotel chains about becoming partners. Will this shake up the travel industry as much as amazon has impacted the bookselling, DVD and music industries? And if it is happening, how long will it be before the company talks to UK suppliers?

Through its local deals, Amazon already offers short breaks within the UK but it sounds as though the company is planning to take on the big boys in tour operations as well as the big online hotel booking chains. If this is the case then smaller hoteliers, B&B’s and guesthouses may like the idea because some of the existing online booking sites are charging 30% and more commission. Amazon is reported to be seeking just 15%.

But can Amazon succeed? It announced a loss for the last quarter, the Christmas period which should be its most successful. Margins in tour operating aren’t – at the mass scale end – anywhere near the margins that booksellers work on so can the company survive a new start up business on those margins? Might it concentrate on the upmarket tour operations where the margins are much higher?

Should this matter to us travellers? If we get better pricing, better service or more choice, many will jump on the Amazon bandwagon. Will it affect the high street travel agent? It must do so I would expect them to either respond or close. In the medium term, if Amazon succeeds, then there must be fewer high street travel agents because it is the intention of the book tour operators to sell more online.

But Amazon seems to have been talking to the travel trade about a January start. It has missed that so will Amazon start a travel business or is this just one of the many ideas that Amazon floats from time-to-time.

Only time will tell.

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