As businesses partake more and more in the global economy, web conferencing has become less of a science fiction novelty and more an invaluable necessity. Compared to the cost of travel these days, businesses with even a handful of employees are economically better off going virtual. GoToMeeting by CITRIX is one of the leading web conferencing services available today, and it definitely merits a closer look.
How does it work?
Once you’ve set up a GoToMeeting account, you can immediately organize and host a meeting for up to 15 attendees. Meetings may be set up in advance through Microsoft Outlook, or you can hold an impromptu instant meeting with just a few clicks.
Your invited attendees do not need a GoToMeeting account, and it’s totally free for them to participate. You can even give them a toll-free number to access the meeting in order to save them any connection costs on their end. (This service will cost you between 7 to 15 cents per minute per invitee.) All your guests need is a PC or Mac with a compatible browser and high-speed Internet connection. If they connect using an iPad, iPhone, or Android, they’ll first need to download the free Go To Meeting app.
Okay—Everyone’s Here. Now what?
GoToMeeting’s interface lets you interact and share information with your fellow participants in real time. Since you initiated the meeting, you’re considered the presenter. This means you have control over what everyone else sees, whether that be your entire screen, a particular application, or even a single document. Presenter controls include interactive chat windows and drawing tools, including marking pen, highlighter, erase, and spotlight functions. If one of the other participants wants to share something, don’t worry. You can easily switch presenters to put them in control.
These features turn boring old meetings into productive collaboration sessions and annoying sales calls into persuasive interactive demos. Demonstrate complex processes and troubleshoot technical problems through screen sharing to keep all of your team members up to speed. You can even record the meetings—both video and audio—to save, edit and share later on.
Smile—You’re in HD
Just recently, GoToMeeting introduced a webcam feature they call HDFaces for no additional cost. Attendeeswho activate the feature appear along a left-hand panel of the screen, still leaving enough room to view the presentation. At this time, HDFaces is not able to be recorded, but it definitely brings a more social atmosphere to the live proceedings. Just don’t forget you’re on camera, or things could get awkward.
Your secrets are safe with GoToMeeting
You can rest easy knowing that all of your meetings will be private and secure. The service features end-to-end Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption, and no unencrypted information is ever stored in the software’s system. Keep unwanted looky-loos out of your meetings with password-protected invitations and inactivity time-outs.
Pricing and limitations
Currently, GoToMeeting offers one package for $49/month or $468/year. Meetings are limited to 15 attendees, but the number and length of meetings you hold is unlimited. Customers report high satisfaction with this flat fee, as many of GoToMeeting’s competitors have pay-per-use or overage fees that can end up far above what customers were expecting to pay.
Compared to its competitors, Go To Meeting’s 15 attendee limit is pretty tiny. Intercall allows 124, and Infinite Conferencing and ClickMeeting accommodate up to 1,000. If smaller meetings are all you need, this isn’t an issue. But if you require anything bigger, there are a few options.
Expand with the GoTo family
GoToMeeting Corporate multi-user accounts come with an additional 10 attendee spots when you add 5 or more organizers. But what if that’s still not enough? CITRIX’s GoToTraining accommodates up to 200 and starts at $149/month or $1,428/year. This solution is great if you want to host live, interactive training sessions. You can even post training materials and tests online.
GoToWebinar accommodates up to 1000 attendees and starts at $99/month or $948/year. This solution allows for the greatest dashboard control for the presenter, including live organization of Q&A sessions and interactive real time polls and surveys.
Not many. The bulk of customer complaints pertaining to low-quality audio or spotty connections come from 2009 or earlier. CITRIX does offer 24/7 customer support, so that seems to be taking care of any major issues before customers feel the need to stampede to the web to vent their frustrations.
Before the introduction of HDFaces, the lack of a webcam feature was a major weak spot in GoToMeeting’s repertoire. It hasn’t been out on the market long enough to gauge customer satisfaction, but judging from the online demos available, it looks pretty sharp.
Mac users should be warned that there are a few restrictions that apply to them, including the inability to record meetings or use presenter tools. The first problem is easy to get around—just have another attendee who’s using a PC record. However, presenters may want to make sure a PC is available (and they’re comfortable using it) prior to leading a meeting.
The bottom line
GoToMeeting is rated highest in reliability and performance by Wainhouse Webmetrics, and C/NET editors rate it 3.5/5 stars (Very Good). Satisfied customers comment most about its ease of setup and use, as well as its affordability and lack of hidden costs later on down the line. Overall, GoToMeeting seems like a safe bet for companies looking for a viable web conferencing solution