Amazon is now launching a new platform called Amazon Explore where users can book live virtual tours. Using the Amazon Explore service, customers can visit far-off places, can do window shopping from around the world, attend DIY workshops, and whatnot.
The virtual tours will be escorted by Amazon experts who are specially trained for such experiences. The Amazon Explore session will involve a one-way video and two-way audio for real-time conversation. Here’s more about the Amazon Explore session:
Amazon Explore session will range between 30-to-60 minutes in length. It can be canceled or rescheduled with up to 24 hours of notice. To begin a virtual tour, users will have to sign-in into their Amazon account. Click on to the ‘Your Session’ page from the ‘Your Orders’ section to get started.
Amazon Explore session isn’t mobile-friendly as of now. Users will need to have a laptop or a desktop with either Chrome, Edge, or Safari web browser installed in it.
During the Amazon Explore session, users can ask questions from the host and tell them to spend more time on one aspect of the experience or skip to another. For now, it is only available for US customers.
Though the tours and experiences offer the ability to virtually travel the globe, the ability to sign up for an Amazon Explore session is currently offered on an invite-only basis for customers in the U.S. only.
The virtual experiences themselves will be guided by local experts who are trained and supported by Amazon, the company says. While there are other ways to virtually tour the world — like watching YouTube videos or perhaps taking guided tours via Google Earth — the Amazon Explore experience is different because it’s a one-on-one session between the host and the viewer, enabled by one-way video and two-way audio for real-time communication. This is meant to give the viewer more of the feeling of really “being there,” compared with experiences where you more passively watch the video on the screen.
Though Amazon has built live-streaming tools for its Live platform, the company says the Amazon Explore experience uses unique technology.
Amazon says the new platform enables more opportunities for small business owners looking to generate additional income, including shop owners, local guides, chefs, stylists, artists, and artisans, for example. Many of these businesses have been impacted by the pandemic, of course, which may prompt their participation.
Pricing for the sessions is variable. At launch, there’s a virtual styling session being offered for just $10, for example. Meanwhile, a virtual tour of NYC’s Central Park is going for $150. Amazon says the hosts set their own prices and hours, without having to abide by any set minimum or maximum price. However, the company declined to detail any revenue-sharing agreements.
At launch, many of the experiences on the site offered are being offered by local tour operators, though any business that has a tour idea is invited to apply. Others who could host experiences include historians, artists, musicians, master craftsmen, chefs, personal shoppers, or anyone with a skill or adventure to share, says Amazon.
There are currently 86 total experiences available across 16 countries, with the plan to grow the selection in time.
The feature is now being offered in public beta to users in the U.S. on an invite-only basis.