A Site Takes Flight

By Samuel Greengard  |  Posted 2008-10-30 Print this article Print

American Express Business Travel has built an industrywide community where anyone in the travel industry can exchange information and interact with others in the value chain.

A Site Takes Flight

The Business ConneXion site offers an array of tools to leverage the power of social networking. These include blogs, photo albums, galleries, community calendars, mobile alerts, a friends’ list and the ability to form subgroups. In January, the company plans to add video and other innovations.

“Many of these tools and technologies have been proved in the consumer space, and they should also be effective in influencing business decision-makers,” Tillman says.

The ultimate goal of this social networking initiative is to position American Express as a thought leader and to drive increased sales. But executives at the Business Travel division understand that the company won’t witness bottom-line benefits overnight: They consider the site a long-term initiative.

“We view this as a new channel that allows us to communicate with both our clients and our prospects,” Tillman explains. The company will use analytics to better understand the value of these relationships.

Business Travel ConneXion is the industry’s first major social networking site, but it’s almost certain to attract competitors in the months ahead. That doesn’t worry Tillman, who believes the key to success is keeping an eye on today’s rapidly changing business environment and providing real value to site visitors.

American Express will publicize the site through industry associations and networks. It also has set up a Facebook fan page with news, information and updates about the site.

Not surprisingly, American Express executives believe that the Business Travel ConneXion site will redefine the industry and help the company maintain its position as the world leader in travel management services.

“In the past, if you wanted to share information, you had to post it to a variety of sources,” Tillman says. “Now, it’s finally possible to create a single source for communicating with an industry. It’s a giant step forward.”

Samuel Greengard is a freelance writer for Baseline.

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