If you've know a bit about the audio conferencing industry you will almost certainly have come across the term ‘reservationless audio conferencing’ but what does it mean? According to the Oxford Dictionary there is no such word as reservationless but it seems to have worked its way into the jargon of teleconferencing.
Reservationless, as the name suggests, simply means that you do not have to reserve your place at the audio conference in advance of the call. The host simply invites the participants to join the conference call by dialling into the audio conference bridge access number at the time of their choosing and the system will automatically set up the call. This might not seem like a big deal to some, but being reservationless offers you huge benefits over the pre-booked conference calls as we will find out shortly.
Pre-booked or reserved audio conferences
Back in the early days of the internet, some ten years ago, the only way to host audio conferences was to call up your conference call provider in advance and pre-book a conference call. You would need to specify the date and time you wanted to book the conference call for and also the number of participants and duration of the call.
The problem with this system, apart from it being a massive inconvenience having to pre-book of course, was that if more people than you were expecting wanted to attend they couldn't and if your call over-ran then you risked being cut off. Moreover, you often had to pay for the number of participants you booked the call for even if they didn't actually turn up on the day.
If you are thinking this all sounds like it was a bit of a pain, you are right, it was. Surprisingly, some audio conferencing providers still use this model today! Even though there is absolutely no need to host your call in this manner.
Why the move to reservationless conferencing?
It is only in the last few years that that technology has advanced to the stage where hosting reservationless audio conferences has become possible. Prior to the emergence of high capacity reservationless conference bridges, capacity on the systems was very limited and it was therefore necessary to manage its allocation very carefully. If too many people tried to dial in at the same time, customers were likely to get the busy tone or, worse still, be connected to overlapping conferences.
The billing systems attached to conference call bridges were also quite rudimentary meaning that unless there was a manual record of who was dialling in when and from where, it was impossible to bill the customer.
With today's modern technology, pre-booked audio conferences are fast becoming a thing of the past with the vast majority now being reservationless. The one exception to this is a special kind of pre-booked conference call known as a managed event call. This is where human operators are used and therefore advance notice is still required. However, with the added use of an operator comes added cost.
Peter Bennett is CEO of Ozone Conferencing Limited. This article is taken from the resources section of the Ozone Conferencing website. Other recent articles include Cheap Conference Calls and Free Audio Conferencing .