Teleconference services are remarkably similar in terms of their basic offerings. Because almost all teleconference services buy their equipment from one of a few manufacturers, there are very few differences in terms of features and connection quality. There are two basic types of audio teleconference available: reservationless and operator-assisted.
Reservationless conferencing is the most popular type of teleconference used today. With it, you can start a conference call immediately, any hour of the day or night. This type of calling is often used by salespeople to set up calls with prospects and by departments that need to hold meetings with other employees or vendors.
When you sign up, you receive a permanent, toll-free dial-in telephone number and two passcodes: one passcode for the teleconference host, and the other for participants. Participants simply need to dial in to be connected to the teleconference.
Because reservationless conferencing is mostly automated, rates are far lower than operator-assisted conferencing. However, reservationless conferencing offers a less comprehensive list of features than operator-assisted services.
On the other end of the scale, operator-assisted conferencing provides the comprehensive support needed for important corporate phone calls like investor relations calls or upper level management meetings.
With this reservation-required service, an operator is on hand to place calls to participants and to help manage the conference call, from the beginning roll call to wrap-up reporting. While this can be overkill for small conference calls, when a call has dozens or even thousands of participants, having someone help manage the call logistics while you are speaking can be incredibly helpful.
The only drawbacks to operator-assisted conferencing are the higher cost and the need to make reservations up to a day in advance. For calls where advanced features or operator assistance is important, however, neither drawback is serious enough to avoid using this type of teleconference service.
Many vendors can offer both operator-assisted and reservationless conferences.