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Maritz Acquires Convention Data Services from Freeman — Maritz CEO Discusses First Acquisition in 12 Years

David Peckinpaugh on stage at Skift Meetings Forum 2023 interviewed by Skift Meetings Editor-in-Chief Miguel Neves

Skift Take

Former rivals, Maritz and Convention Data Services, have joined forces. Maritz has acquired the company from Freeman.

Maritz has acquired Convention Data Services (CDS), a registration, on-site and lead management company from global events company Freeman

The two companies have been competitors, but now Martiz will integrate CDS’ roughly 200 employees. This process will take anywhere from 12 to 36 months, according to Maritz CEO David Peckinpaugh. Maritz will have about 2,700 full-time employees across all its divisions. 

In a world where AI is a focus, why acquire a 38-year-old company? “At the end of the day, as we’ve seen in the in-person events industry, it really comes down to core services. AI is going to be an enhancement to that, but it’s not a replacement. This is a unique opportunity to add a large portfolio of clients and events to our existing portfolio and to keep that individual team-focused boutique service model in place,” said Peckinpaugh. 

Associations have significant needs related to registration, housing, lead retrieval, onsite support, and more. “CDS adds to this existing set of services. It’s an amplification of our existing business,” said Peckinpaugh. “And we’re not only focused on that in North America, but we have great plans on being able to expand on a more global basis over time.”  

Last Maritz Acquisition in 2012

The last time Maritz made an acquisition was when it acquired meeting and event services company Experient in 2012. 

Freeman acquired CDS five years ago, following its 2018 acquisition of Info Salons, an event registration and attendee database management company. The two acquisitions aimed to expand Freeman’s ability to collect registration data. Both CDS and Info Salons kept their existing organizational structure.

CDS Partners With Informa

The Maritz deal follows the April 25 announcement that CDS had become the strategic full-service registration and lead management partner for Informa Markets’ North American event portfolio. Since January, CDS has been handling Informa’s registration and lead management, and the collaboration decreased registration wait times for the company’s Q1 events, including Word of Concrete, SupplySide Network East, and The International Surface Event.

Freeman No Stranger to Acquisitions

In August of 2023, Freeman acquired global brand experience agency Sparks. Other Freeman acquisitions have included Impact Point Group, a tech-focused strategic event company; audience engagement technology company, founded by Ken Holsinger, now Freeman’s senior VP of strategy and research; and Audio Visual Management Group.

Maritz and Freeman are privately owned companies. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Photo credit: Skift / Skift