American Express Business Travel and Maritz Travel are forming a strategic alliance that provides their North American clients with strategic meeting management services.

MaXvantage, as the new alliance is called, offers services that help companies manage corporate meetings and events, including centralized sourcing, meeting planning and data analysis.

Maritz Travel, based in St. Louis, creates meetings, events and incentive travel programs.

In an interview with, Hervé Sedky, vice president and general manager of global business partnerships, advisory services and corporate meetings solutions, at American Express Business Travel in New York, estimated that corporate meetings and events is a $124 billion industry, adding that the category is largely unmanaged, with just about 5% to 10% of companies now effectively managing the spend.

“Clearly given the economic environment where chief purchasing officers and other financial executives are looking for the next realm of savings, this is one that captures their attention,” Sedky said.

While some companies are cutting the meeting spend by not hosting or canceling large events, others are simply looking to put their arms around the entire category, he explained.

Of the new strategic alliance, he added: “Probably the most exciting and relevant investment we [American Express Business Travel] can make in this industry is to disrupt it to some degree and create something that doesn’t exist today to put meetings at the top of the agenda for CPOs.

“We saw huge opportunity to invest in the area to come up with the right solution that brings together the interest of the CPO with that of the chief marketing officer and if we can do that by offering the right solution and also the right tools to measure efficiency and effectiveness and ROI of meetings we believe it will help companies get to the next realm of savings the CPO is looking for,” he said.

The strategic alliance is subject to the execution of the final documentation which the parties expect to complete shortly.