At the NBTA conference American Express announced "plans to launch a business-to-business online networking community for the corporate travel industry." There are a couple of interesting aspects of this announcement. Social networking is finally being embraced (though only a limited short "hug") by the corporate travel community. I moderated two sessions at the conference on social networking and both were well attended. BusinessTravelConnexion.com is being promoted as a way for corporate travel executives, suppliers and other providers to connect with each other in an online community. No one knows how successful this effort will be, but I applaud Amex for launching the initiative. A concern I have was actually part of my presentation during one of the NBTA sessions where I stated that communities naturally exist and cannot be created. Will the Amex Business Travel Connexion tap into existing communities? Will travel managers and suppliers find a forum hosted by the top TMC a proper avenue to connect? Time will tell if the Amex initiative will be successful in tapping existing communities. The other interesting aspect was that I received a call from Amex last week asking whether I would be blogging about the new service. At least Amex is recognizing the power of the Blogisphere.
I also had my first experience moderating a panel at NBTA during an earthquake. I have lived in California for 23 years, but I still have not become accustomed to earthquakes, even though I was at the World Series for the big Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. Unfortunately we lost about 70% of our audience who fled the session. This is shame as the panelists from Sabre Cubeless and Cisco were excellent. Next year NBTA is in San Diego affording us all another opportunity to experience the earth shake beneath our feet.