Worldwide online retail behemoth Amazon is about to cause a major shakeup in the way travel product is sold worldwide. The company has contacted travel suppliers and travel tour operators in the U.S. asking them to be a part of the new venture that is expected to become operational shortly. One receptive tour operator in the northeastern U.S. has told NAJ that an online company—though the operator did not name Amazon, by definition it could only be Amazon–had asked the receptive to be a part of a regional network of operators whose product it would sell. Also, the travel news outlet Skift has cited several hotel sources in an article indicating that there would be a launch of Amazon Travel by early January. For hoteliers, it would mean loading standard information posted by hotels into the Amazon system; they would pay a standard 15 percent commission to Amazon for the prepaid bookings.
It is not immediately clear how extensively the Amazon travel product would be sold, but the customer base is huge. The last publicly released number from Amazon—in mid-2014—indicated that it had an active customer base of 244 million consumers. And in its just released full-year report for 2014, the company said that it set a record in selling more than 2 billion items worldwide. Established in 1995 and first-known primarily as an online bookseller, Amazon has grown to comprise more than 30 different product areas ranging from groceries, apparel and computers to furniture, major appliances and video content.
And on Jan. 13, Amazon Studios announced that it had signed the film director Woody Allen to write and direct his first television series ever. Customers will be able to see the half-hour series exclusively on Prime Instant Video in the USA, the UK and Germany.