Amazon rolled out a new service Tuesday to help people plan and book local getaway trips through its website.
The service, called Amazon Destinations, provides lists of locations near a user's home for short-term trips, offering hotel bookings, as well as information on dining and attractions. For instance, for a New York customer, the site provides bookings for hotels in the Catskills, the Hamptons and on the New Jersey Shore. Still, the rollout for now is small, with the service available for only the New York, Los Angeles and Seattle metro areas.
The new service brings the Seattle e-commerce company into the travel services business, which is already filled with competitors including TripAdvisor, Expedia, Groupon and other sites. Amazon may be able to draw in customers thanks to the traffic to its main site, but it will have to work hard to differentiate itself against so many other online travel agencies, including Kayak, Airbnb and Hipmunk.
Amazon Destinations expands on Amazon Local, the company's daily-deals hub, which offers discounts for local shops, theater tickets, restaurants and entertainment.
The new service is just one more area Amazon has jumped into in the past few years. The company, which started as an online bookstore, has become a marketplace for millions of products -- from socks to washing machines. It's also a maker of a tablet and a streaming-media box, and it has a television studio, to name a few of the company's recent ventures.