ABTS, which has been in business for 15 years, acts as a partner to major medical associations, association management companies, and housing and registration companies to facilitate the attendance of physicians from outside the U.S. at meetings held in the U.S., an important segment of growth for many U.S. medical associations. We recently spoke with Davide Veglia, president of the Miami-based company, which also has offices in Rome, San Francisco, and Belgrade, Serbia.

Medical Meetings: Why is there a need for a company such as yours?

Veglia: We serve an association's international attendees at no cost to the association. This includes representing the association at major medical meetings in Europe and Asia, and marketing to delegates around the world to drive attendance. By building international delegations, we help the association, and the destination, increase revenues. International attendees are known to stay longer and spend more.

We also work with the association to control and maintain rooms in the room block, easing the attrition burden. We support meeting planners with an in-house immigration attorney to provide visa support to the U.S., and we offer proprietary technology that allows international planners to book rooms online, manage their rooming lists and updates, and book optional services.

We take care of accreditation conversion for non-U.S. physicians. It can make a huge difference to doctors in European Union countries that do not recognize EU credits. In Italy, for example, a pharmaceutical company sponsoring a doctor for a meeting in the U.S. can save on their expenses if the education is accredited with the Italian Ministry of Health. We have appointed Alfonso Negri, MD, to lead the company's continuing medical education services to help facilitate their accreditation in the EU. Dr. Negri is a Medical Foreign Committee Member of the Italian Federation of Medical Societies and a founder of the first accredited event in Italy, the National Pneumology Congress.

MM: What do you foresee for the future of large medical meetings, especially in light of more stringent ethical guidelines for funding doctors' participation?

Veglia: There is definitely more concern about ethics and the use of five-star properties, for example. But there is so much growth in emerging countries, such as the Ukraine and Russia. I foresee three major medical regions will survive: the large special society meetings in the United States, in Europe, and in Japan. Japan, with more than $60 billion in sales, represents 11 percent of the pharmaceutical world market and it is the second-largest after the U.S. It is due to become the focal point in that region of the world.