Facing months of intense scrutiny of meetings, companies have canceled program after program for no other reason than how those events might be perceived by the public and by shareholders.

With the intention not just of helping companies to track and control their meeting spending but also to document and defend the reasons for their meeting choices, American Express Business Travel and Maritz Travel have joined forces to offer MaXvantage. Not a new product, MaXvantage is rather the bundling of the companies’ respective tools and expertise to offer companies tight expense management and control along with program experiences that participants want and that meet defined objectives.

And the time is now for making meeting choices that are backed up by attendee feedback and executed in accordance with strict policies. “We started having conversations about this well before October, but the timing for the launch couldn’t be better,” says Christine Duffy, president and CEO, Martiz Travel. And not just because of “the AIG effect,” but because the convergence of corporate travel management and meetings and event management is gathering steam.

“We’ve been preaching SMMP for 15 years,” Duffy says. “And the American Express client base gives us access to the right people inside the company to hear this story.” Not to mention that the current business climate is making a lot more companies sit up and listen to that story—including the many AmEx clients who are not yet managing their meeting spend the way they’ve tightened the reins on corporate travel spend.

One of the reasons they’ve been slow to manage meeting spend, Duffy believes, is the historic separation of the principles of procurement and the goals of meeting owners. "Maritz brings the value for the stakeholder, so the reason for these programs doesn’t get lost," she explains. Specifically, Maritz offers tools such as Meeting Effectiveness and Travel Insight that incorporate participant preferences into meeting design, offering a documented justification for site selection and other design choices.

Find more information, visit the Maritz or American Express Web sites.