They sort of announced it once and then they announced it again the other day and we're still not sure just what it will look like, but one of the first on-line communities for business travellers is about to be launched. The American Express Business Travel organization took to the podium at a major biz trav meeting this week, saying that Connexion will be up and running as "a business-to-business on-line community for corporate travel". Executive Travel magazine, an American Express Publishing title, intends to provide content to the site and the National Business Travel Association (NBTA) will become its first industry content partner. The site is not really open to the public, says AmEx spokeswoman Alicia Tillman, but, as a first step, it is accepting suggestions for content and features at this site. People can register, offer their thoughts, and receive updates on the site's progress until its launch, now planned for some time in October.
Tillman said the site is not a pure marketing or PR tool. She said that as much as 60% of the site's content could and - she hopes - would come from outside. Such user-geneated content is at the heart of Web. 2.0, but a quickie peek at the site so far is less than thrilling. It is straightforward corporate and straightforward goody-goody. May be it was the forum - a crowded NBTA presser, an inaudible speaker (not Tillman) on the phone, a meaningless Power Point - but we are less than enthused. This is not for the biz traveller in his underwear in a hotel in Ulan Bator warning about the new 'road tax' (read bribe) to be paid at the city's beltway interchange; it's for clean, happy, shiny-toothers in airport lounges. Few people were excited in the spring, when it was first mentioned; perhaps it will be better by autumn.