At Vantage Conferencing Solutions, Inc., we've done our best to create a Web site that anticipates and satisfies our customers' needs. With that goal in mind, we've compiled a list of frequently asked questions. If you do not find an answer to your question here, contact us at 877.369.5303 or
Who Needs Conferencing Services?
Just about every business, small or large, needs audio conferencing. But it’s not just businesses that need and use conferencing services. Organizations, societies, groups and governmental agencies often need conferencing services to communicate with their members. Homeowner associations, professional societies, churches and religious groups are but a few examples.
Conferencing is used for a wide variety of purposes, including company meetings, sales meetings, investor relations calls, etc. and often takes the place of a time consuming and expensive face-to-face meeting. Conferencing services generally are needed whenever there are more than 3 parties involved, as otherwise 3-way calling can be used. Some larger businesses have phone systems that allow up to 4 or 5 or more parties to be joined together, but once the number gets beyond that they must use an external conferencing service.
For web conferencing, the need is more limited, although this is a rapidly growing market. Web conferencing adds a visual component to the conference call, allowing participants to see a presentation, experience a product demonstration, and even allow a participant to take control over applications on their computer. Web conferencing, being somewhat more complicated to use than pure audio conferencing, is generally purchased by the more tech savvy customers. It is often used for sales presentations and product demos, as well as employee and customer training.
Q: A lot of vendors offer automated conferencing . . . what’s so different about yours?
A: Our solution provides you with always available conferencing. You don’t have to plan ahead for a meeting or waste time making/changing a reservation…simply pick up a touch-tone telephone and place your call whenever you need to conference.
Where will you see the biggest differences?
- Flexibility – Our service allows you to hold conferences, at any time and from any touch-tone telephone, without ANY type of reservation or operator assistance. Many other vendors offer “on-demand” conferencing, but you still must make a “standing reservation” or even speak with an operator first before starting a conference. With our service you just dial into the system whenever, and for as long as, you like. It’s TRUE on-demand, reservation-less conferencing. Intuitive voice messages prompt and guide you into conference.
- Availability – The platform we use employs a unique capacity management tool to ensure that you don’t hear a busy signal when you want to conference.
- Reliability – Our service runs on a carrier-grade platform and uses the most robust operating environment available. This means the system will be available whenever and wherever you need it.
- Voice Quality – Our service offers the absolute best voice quality available. The platform we use has been in use for over 20 years and is hands-down the best in the conferencing industry. Our service will give you the voice quality you need and expect to meet your mission critical business needs.
Q: My current long distance carrier provides conferencing in a bundled package to save me money —why do I need a separate conferencing service provider?
A: Do you know for a fact that this “bundled service” is saving you money? Can you explain your current service costs? Keep in mind that carriers often bundle services to reduce the chances of churn and to “make things easier” on their customers by way of not having to track multiple services separately. However, this makes it very hard for customers to actually discern what they are paying for one service vs. another. Also, bundling may be locking you into a multiple-year commitment and/or a limited set of features. Can we review your current conferencing services with you to see if we can provide more flexibility, features and choice for a better price?
Q: I can conference right now on my PBX -why should I switch to a service provider?
A: A PBX has definite limitations and you would be wise to at least take a closer look at a service provider who can provide feature-rich conferencing capability. Do you know what your PBX’s current limits are? Many companies find the following when they examine how well their PBX’s are meeting their conferencing needs:
- They often tie up critical business lines with conferences, keeping current and potential customers from reaching them conveniently
- Their maximum conference size often exceeds the limit of the PBX
- Not all conferences can be accommodated when needed . . . limited conferencing resources
- Voice quality diminishes significantly as more lines are brought into conference (often degrading severely beyond 6 or more participants)
- The PBX does not allow for conferencing with people/customers outside the system
- The PBX offers very limited features and functionality (no conference control, no dial-out, etc.)
Q: What about service interruptions? How reliable is the service you’re selling and how will you minimize the chances that I won’t be able to hold a conference when I need to?
A: We use the same conferencing platform trusted by telephone carriers like AT&T and WorldCom. It is highly reliable and can grow to meet all of your conferencing needs.
Q: If I don’t make a reservation, how do I keep track of when I have conferences? How do others I invite keep track?
A: Most people simply use email or voice messaging to let participants know of an upcoming conference call—but you can use any method you like. You might even have a recurring meeting (like a weekly department meeting or a monthly review with a customer), in which case all participants dial into the system at a regular time. Either way, the Subscriber just needs to let participants know the following information in advance of the conference: Date/Time, Telephone Access Number, Participant Access Code. If you want to bring someone new into the conference once it starts, you can simply dial-out to them.
Q: How long does it take to open an account? When can I start holding conferences?
A: It takes just minutes to open an account. One you have set up your account, you can start conferencing immediately!
Q: How many people can I have on a single conference call? Is there a conference size limit on the system?
A: Studies show that the average conference size is between five (5) and seven (7) people; however, you can have up to 99 people on a conference. If you occasionally have conferences that are larger than that, you can use our Reserved or Operated Assisted services.
Q: How hard is it for someone who’s never used the system before to join a conference call?
A: It’s incredibly easy! At the time of the conference, all they have to do is dial the Access Phone Number provided to them by the Subscriber, enter the Access Code, and follow the voice prompts into the conference. The Subscriber can also dial out to participants in order to join them to a conference.
Audio Conference Call Types
Operator Assisted conferencing is a type of audio conference call where participants dial into a toll or toll-free number and are greeted by a live operator who gathers the required information and places the participant into the call. The operator then assists in the running of the conference call if necessary by providing instructions to participants on how to ask questions and assisting in managing the queue. Typically the operator is available to help the moderator on a full time basis in the running of a call. Operator assisted calls are typically used when there is a large number participants on a call or when the call is a high profile call such as an investor conference call. Operator assisted call require that the moderator make a reservation to ensure that the appropriate resources are available. Operator assisted conference calls are also known as "Meet Me" calls.
Passcode conferencing is a type of audio conference call where participants call into a toll or toll-free number and are prompted by an automated service to enter the call number and a passcode to be placed in a call. An operator is available to assist the moderator during the call but the moderator has to enter a code to have the operator come onto the call. Because there is less assistance, it is important that the moderator be comfortable with the system if there is going to be a large number of participants on a call. Passcode typically does not offer services such as polling and queuing of questions. Like operator assisted, passcode requires that the moderator make a reservation in advance.
Reservationless conference calling is the newest form of audio conference calling. As the name implies, reservationless calls do not require a reservation and therefore are very popular form of conferencing since it allows individuals to have impromptu meetings. Similar to a passcode conference call, the moderator sends out the registration information to the participants and they are automatically placed into the "meeting room". This type of call does not offer operator assistance and therefore is not recommended for large calls. In fact, most of the service providers place a limit on the number of people who are allowed on a reservationless call. Reservationless conference calls are sometime also referred to as "Instant Access" conference calls.