Estimating the cost of a multilingual conference

Here are some guidelines when budgeting for a multilingual conference call. Bear in mind that the ZipDX service is targeted at professional (corporate, government, diplomatic) business meetings where accuracy and efficiency are of paramount importance. The most expensive aspect of these meetings is the valuable time of the participants; achieving the meeting goals with maximum productivity are the objectives.


One interpreter is required for a two-language meeting (for example, English-Spanish). An additional interpreter will be required for each additional language, so an English-Spanish-French-German meeting requires three interpreters.

Furthermore, under typical circumstances, if the meeting will last more than thirty minutes, the interpreters will work in teams so the number must be doubled (to two or six interpreters for our examples here). If you have your own interpreters, check with them for their rates and their limitations on when team interpreting is required.

If you plan to contract for interpretation services, expect to spend $150-200 per hour per interpreter.


To estimate your meeting costs, you’ll need to know three key parameters:

  1. The duration of the meeting
  2. The number of participants
  3. The number of languages

These fees are fairly easy to estimate and we’ve included a calculator on this page. Each connection to the conference incurs a per-minute charge; this can be estimated at $5 per hour for each participant and $15 per hour for each interpreter and applies to most countries.

In some places, there are surcharges as a result of government regulations and related factors. The surcharges generally apply in less-developed countries such as China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and many Middle-Eastern and African countries; they vary from an addition $5 to $25 per hour, per connection.

You can create a rough estimate this using the calculator, or contact us with your full list of connecting countries and we’ll help you get a more precise estimate. In any case, when your meeting takes place, ZipDX will automatically compute your charges according to the actual number of connections and the precise duration of each.

Connection Cost Calculator
This calculation based upon all participants connecting to our US toll-free number, and interpreters connecting 10 minutes ahead of the scheduled call start time.


You may require additional services to produce a successful meeting. Consider the following items:

What will be the general format of the meeting:

  • Lecture only (one or a few persons speaking in one language, with listeners in other language(s))
  • Lecture with question and answer session at end
  • Conversation (participants free to talk back and forth spontaneously)

Will presentation materials will be used:

  • Slides or screen-sharing presented in one language only
  • Slides translated in advance into other language(s)
  • No on-line presentation (materials distributed in advance via email, or no written materials)

Are there special technical considerations:

  • Connections to an in-room audio system (rather than each participant simply connecting by phone)
  • Interface to a video-conferencing system

The more complex your requirements, the more important the following become:

  • Who is managing the list of attendees and the communications with them (in multiple languages) in advance of the event?
  • Do presentation materials need to be translated and are resources available for that task?
  • Are technicians and/or engineers required and available to make required interconnections to special-purpose equipment?
  • Who will be responsible for moderating the meeting and for handling Q&A?
  • Are test sessions required in advance for presenters and moderator(s)? Or to verify equipment connections? If so, include additional Interpreter and ZipDX charges if applicable.
  • Is a project manager required and assigned to handle some or all of these tasks and coordinate the entire effort?

If applicable, you should include cost estimates for the above items in your overall budget.