Richard Wooten controls spending in the neighborhood of $400 million as the director of corporate travel for Lockheed Martin Corp., but there was one area that always struck him as out of line–the $100 million of costs related to meetings that Lockheed organized for such constituency groups as shareholders, its board of directors and employees. Last year, he decided it was time to drill down, so Wooten approached U.S. Bank about participating in a Visa meeting card program.

Of course, a portion of the spending for Lockheed meetings was already being put on cards of one sort or another; the bulk, however, was still coming in the form of paper purchase orders or invoices for such items and services as hotel rooms and group lunches. But the Visa meeting card program allowed Wooten and his meeting planners to segregate and automate the entire spend for all meetings. It also let them extract specific charges and allocate them to various departments or budget lines.

After a year with the meeting card program, Wooten has unmasked categories in which Lockheed has been spending too much–such as audiovisual and catering–and he is implementing strategies to rein them in. "We had a pretty good idea that some [spending] was exorbitant, and when you look at the data, it verifies it," he says.

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