Amazon’s New Virtual Travel Experiences
Throughout 2020, would-be travellers have embraced virtual tours and experiences in the face of global travel restrictions caused by Covid-19. Seeking a slice of the action, Amazon is launching its own live online experiences platform, Amazon Explore.
Users will be able to book virtual tours of global landmarks (including a 500-year-old temple in Peru), take workshops and classes (like learning to make smoked fish tacos with a chef in Mexico, or lessons on sake from a Tokyo bar), and explore local boutiques.
Led by experts, these experiences are one-on-one – a key difference from Airbnb’s group virtual experiences, launched earlier this year. Users can communicate with the guide, ask them questions, and request them to spend more time on a certain aspect of the tour – all designed to replicate the experience of ‘really being there’.
Another unique feature is the platform’s shopping tool, which allows users to purchase items from local stores and boutiques and have them shipped to their homes. Transactions are handled by Amazon’s secure payment system, and the store is reimbursed.
The tool is currently in invite-only beta mode in the US and lists 86 experiences in 16 countries, with prices ranging from $10-150.
While this is an exciting extension of the virtual tourism explosion (see The Virtual Travel Boom), global giants like Amazon entering the fray with its vast user base and loyalty programmes – also validates our earlier thinking around the diversification of online travel booking. See Three Seminal Travel Trends: Boutique Hotel Summit 2019 for more.