Managing meeting spending has become a hot topic, and a surprise merger announced last month brings together two of the most visible companies providing technology to help companies source meetings sites, track spending, and enforce meeting policy. Santa Clara, Calif. — based OnVantage and Philadelphia-based StarCite will become one company under the StarCite name.

Customers will work under their respective OnVantage or StarCite contracts and technology solutions through December 2007. However, the new company will use the OnVantage technology platform moving forward. “But not without changes,” notes StarCite president and CEO Michael Boult, who says they will build upon OnVantage's core technology as the companies integrate. In addition to providing services to meeting organizers, both companies are in the business of driving meeting business to hotels with online marketing products, e-RFP tools, and other services.

While the merger will reduce competition in this market space, John Chang, former CEO at OnVantage, and chairman of the new entity, commented that it's “still a developing market, still a pressing need to get customers.” Boult estimates that only 3 percent of the $3 billion in meetings spending is currently under management. The customer, he says, will benefit from “clarity of choice” and less risk. “We have more understanding of how to make the customers successful,” he says.

Boult indicated that the merger would result in some layoffs, but he said the company was expecting near-term growth. The merged company will have approximately 350 employees, close to half of whom are based outside the United States, with the largest concentration in Shanghai. StarCite's founder John Pino, who had held the title of executive chairman, will become president of StarCite International, with a focus on international expansion and partner strategies. Today, StarCite has about 135 multinational corporate clients, plus “dozens of third-party clients,” says Boult, who notes that its clients who use the marketplace/e-RFPs number in the thousands.

StarCite will adopt the OnVantage product names: MeetingView (for planners), MarketView (for hotels), and EasyBook (for small meetings).

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