Moving even further afield from its bookish start, Amazon.com announced Wednesday that it is now adding travel services and products to its menagerie of online offerings.
Through a partnership with online travel provider Expedia Inc., consumers can now visit Amazon's Travel Store to book trips and access travel-related information. In addition, Amazon has also partnered with Hotwire Inc. to offer discounted travel and National Leisure Group Inc. for cruise vacations.
Although Amazon began as a bookseller, it has since expanded its offerings to include electronics, music, DVDs, games and toys. And while the site was hoping to tap into the demand for online travel services, its entry into the business comes at an awkward time, two weeks after terrorists hijacked three planes in the U.S., leaving many people afraid to fly.
"Travel is still a big part of peoples' lives, maybe now more than ever with the holidays coming up. People will want to see their families," said Amazon spokeswoman Carrie Peters.
Peters added that travel is one of the fastest growing online industries.
The Travel Store will include Expedia's Travel Disruption Resource Center, offering airline updates, advisories, check-in procedures and visitor information. Expedia put this service in place following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to help consumers navigate travel changes.
The new store also offers a variety of travel-related products and information from thousands of stores across the Amazon site.
Later this year, Amazon expects to launch a travel store on its U.K. subsidiary, Amazon.co.uk, with bookings powered by European travel agent Expedia.co.uk.