NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) on Monday quietly launched a new feature called Amazon Destinations as a subset of its deals app Amazon Local that allows consumers to book discounted hotel rooms.
Amazon had already offered hotel deals through the app but has now segregated this capability into its own section and added increased functionality as well as additional selections in Los Angeles, New York City and Seattle. The idea is for consumers to be able to book a last-minute, local getaway at a hotel that's within driving distance of their home. In addition to the service's being available on the Amazon Local app, consumers can obtain the new feature on desktop and mobile websites as well.
According to Amazon, more than 40% of U.S. domestic leisure trips are short-term getaways of one to three nights, many of which are to nearby destinations. Amazon is trying to tap into this demand.
"Amazon Destinations builds on our local expertise by helping customers discover great getaway destinations within driving distance of their homes and book a place to stay from a list of handpicked hotels," Amazon spokesman Tom Cook said.
In addition, Amazon is also tapping into the demand from hotels to find more ways to fill empty rooms. Through Destinations, hotels can post rooms at their published rates or at discounted ones. According to The Wall Street Journal, about 150 properties are listing rooms on Destinations.
In another example of Amazon's challenge to the traditional players in an industry, this stronger push into hotels threatens players like Expedia (EXPE - Get Report), Orbitz (OWW) and Priceline.com (PCLN)-owned Booking.com, which offer similar platforms for hotels and getaways.
When asked how Amazon will differentiate itself from these other players, Cook emphasized that the hotels on Destinations would be "handpicked" and like a "trusted friend."
In an interview earlier this year, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster mentioned that Amazon would likely be pushing into the travel industry as its next frontier, noting that it would fit with Amazon's strategy to capture more wallet share.
According to Statista, the U.S. hotel industry generated about $163 billion in 2013, so it's no wonder Amazon's interest has been piqued.