Now that Maritz Travel has acquired Experient, you could probably pick any type of meeting, type of planner, or piece of the meeting design or execution process, and find that Maritz has a service to provide you.

The acquisition, announced April 3, “is a result of a robust strategic plan we developed last fall for Maritz, in which we tore the company down to its bare bones and looked at where we should take it in the future,” says David Peckinpaugh, who in June marks his one-year anniversary as president of Maritz Travel, based in St. Louis. “Part of that strategy was identifying opportunities in adjacent markets.”

Throughout its 50-year history, he points out, “Maritz has been 100 percent corporate. We saw an opportunity in the association, trade show, and government markets.” The acquisition of Experient—with its clients in associations, trade shows, and government—was the puzzle piece that fit the long-term vision.

There’s also Peckinpaugh’s history with Twinsburg, Ohio–based Experient: He headed up sales and marketing at Conferon Global Services, which became Experient. He stresses that his knowledge and experience with the company was “an influencer,” but the decision was “driven by strategy. And we did our due diligence.”

Combined, the companies in 2011 were responsible for booking 11,500 meetings and sourcing, managing, or contracting six million room nights. Experient also processed 2.4 million registrations in 2011, which points up the list of “select services” the company can offer to Maritz Travel clients. These include registration, housing, site sourcing/contract negotiation, and lead retrieval services. For its part, Peckinpaugh says, Maritz brings its expertise with incentives, the cutting-edge research into human behavior being done by The Maritz Institute, and its survey-based measurement and design tools such as Travel Insight and Meeting Effectiveness.

Three Brands
“Experient, A Maritz Travel Company,” will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Maritz Travel, and will be the company’s association, trade show, and government brand, Peckinpaugh says, while Maritz Travel will be the corporate brand. With such clear lines of distinction already existing, he notes, “the combination will be cleaner. There will be no impact on customers or how we service them.” There is only one office location overlap, in St. Louis, and there are no plans to reduce staff at Maritz Travel (823 employees) or Experient (540 employees). However, Jeff Price, CEO at Experient, announced he will step down.

Corporate clients who had worked with Experient now will be served by the Maritz Travel brand; however, Peckinpaugh says, “the operation of those meetings will not change, so there will be no customer impact. Contacts and teams will remain the same.”

Maxvantage, meanwhile, will continue as the company’s strategic meetings management brand.

The acquisition was announced to employees at simultaneous town hall meetings at the companies’ headquarters. Peckinpaugh notes that an “optimization team,” with members from both Experient and Maritz Travel, will be working “to make sure the acquisition is successful. At the end of the day, it’s a powerful story.”

Find more at the Maritz Travel Web site.