Amazon, SideStep Partner for Travel Search

Amazon.com’s under-developed “Travel” section will become more content-rich early next year. Travel search engine SideStep has struck a deal to power a co-branded site in Amazon’s travel store.

The agreement gives SideStep’s travel and hospitality advertisers a dramatic boost in distribution. In SideStep’s model, partners pay the company on a cost-per-acquisition basis when someone the search engine refers books travel. The company also offers advertising opportunities on its engine and in email newsletters, but couldn’t say whether those ads would appear on the Amazon.com site.

“I think they [advertisers] are going to be thrilled. This gives them so much reach,” said Phil Carpenter, vice president of corporate marketing at SideStep, noting advertisers hadn’t yet been briefed on the hush-hush deal. “If you look at travel providers…they are just rooting for us to succeed. They want to see the oligopoly [of online travel agencies] diversified.”

SideStep’s advertisers include American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Continental Airlines, Hyatt Corporation, Best Western, National Leisure Group and Thrifty Car Rental.

Carpenter notes the deal is also be an opportunity for SideStep to get its brand in front of Amazon’s customer base.

It’s not clear whether SideStep is paying Amazon for the exposure or whether the two have a revenue-sharing arrangement. Neither company would disclose financial details or the duration of the agreement.

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