We went straight to the top—Issa Jouaneh, vice president, global meeting solutions at American Express Business Travel—to clarify some misconceptions readers have had about Maxvantage, the partnership launched last year between two CMI 25 companies, AEBT and Maritz Travel Co.

Myth: Maxvantage is a company.
Reality: Maxvantage is a bundling of AEBT’s and Maritz Travel’s respective tools and expertise. Through this strategic alliance, Maxvantage combines AMEX’s expense management capabilities with Maritz’s focus on meeting and incentive experiences, as well as on strategic meetings management. Maxvantage is not a new product, and it’s not a company.

Myth: Maxvantage is just for existing clients of AEBT and Maritz.
Reality: The Maxvantage platform was offered to both companies’ legacy clients when it was introduced last fall; as of December 2009, 100 percent of clients from both companies had transitioned to it. However, Maxvantage is not just for existing customers, and Jouaneh has seen “very good growth. In 2010, we added several clients to our roster. Companies are focusing on compliance, savings, value creation, and strategic meetings management—and all those needs are served by us.”

Myth: Maxvantage is really just a menu of additional services from which clients pick and choose.
Reality: Maxvantage takes a consultative approach to offering these services. “We actually create a business plan for our clients, integrating their needs with our offerings to create a map for them.”

Myth: Maxvantage is about consulting services, not staffing.
Reality: “We have the capabilities to manage different types of meetings and even to provide the staffing clients need to become an extension of their organization.”

Myth: Maxvantage’s technology platform is similar to all the rest.
Reality: Not exactly. Maxvantage has a proprietary SMM platform that also does benchmarking and even predictive modeling. While the focus of SMM technologies is on registering, sourcing, reconciliation, and attendee management, the benchmarking capability lets clients see what other companies are doing in terms of the cities and properties they’re choosing and the rates they’re getting. “That even can be broken out to companies within your industry,” says Jouaneh. Predictive modeling based on occupancy, season, and room rates lets clients plan when and where they should have their meetings to maximize budgets.