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The widespread adoption of digital technology has made simultaneous interpretation more accessible than ever before. While in-person interpretation has witnessed a post-pandemic renaissance for professional, large-scale events, the advent of remote simultaneous interpretation (RSI) options has enabled effective international conversations to take place without the need for an on-site interpreter. Ultimately making the delivery of simultaneous translation more simple, reliable, and cost-effective than ever before.

In this article, we compare the costs of simultaneous interpretation and remote simultaneous interpretation services, outline their respective benefits and drawbacks, and offer some advice on how to select the most cost-effective service.

What are the differences?

To determine whether a remote interpretation setup is the best option for you, you must first understand the differences between the two approaches.

There are two types of interpreting services for meetings, conferences, townhalls, training sessions, and other event formats that require real-time translation from professional conference interpreters:

  • in-person simultaneous interpretation
  • remote simultaneous interpretation

When an interpreter is physically present during the meeting, it is referred to as in-person simultaneous interpretation, whereas remote simultaneous interpretation occurs when the interpreter is located elsewhere, and the meeting is video-recorded and streamed to a professional interpreter using an interpreting soft console.

Key differences between the two approaches include:

  • Setup: A lot of equipment is needed for in-person interpretation (sound booths, interpreting hard consoles, AV equipment, cables, ..)
  • Required assistance: For on-site interpretation, you need to engage an AV business with the appropriate equipment, find interpreters through an LSP or interpreting agency, distribute receivers to the audience, and have a crew on site managing everything to set up interpretation.
  • Available talent: If you assign interpreters on-site, your options for linguistic talent are limited to those who are available all day and are willing to travel.
  • Risk: What would happen if the flight was canceled? What if the interpreter must abruptly cancel? Last-minute modifications won't jeopardize the success of your event if you use remote interpreting.
  • Service scope: When working with a multilingual meeting partner like Interprefy, you can offer simultaneous translation, sign language, and multilingual captioning services all at once.
  • Language access device: Live translation is streamed to radio / IR receivers for on-site audiences via in-person interpreting. Remote interpreting can be accessed via the same receivers as well as streamed to people's mobile phones, meeting platforms, or streaming services.

In-person interpreting costs

A lot goes into securing on-site interpretation. First, you need to source talent. Then, you need to organise and pay for each interpreter's flights, accommodation, and transportation to and from events. Enabling on-site interpretation also requires renting equipment and setting up interpretation booths at the venue.

If multiple languages require interpretation, then the cost of onsite interpretation can skyrocket — generally, two interpreters are needed per language combination. Your venue choice is also affected, as the event space needs to be large enough to accommodate guests and several interpreter booths.

The combination of all those factors makes in-person interpreting an unviable choice for many scenarios, such as short one-hour sessions.

Remote interpreting costs

The right Remote Simultaneous Interpretation platform makes it easy for interpreters to provide their services from anywhere in the world. This eliminates the need to transport and house interpreters and set up interpreter booths. Along with saving money in these areas, RSI reduces an event’s carbon footprint by no longer requiring interpreters to travel to events.

RSI platforms cater to the interpreting needs of any on-site, hybrid, or fully virtual meeting or event — at a lower, financial and environmental cost compared to traditional event approaches, where interpreters are visible on-site.

While RSI consists of advanced software, securing accurate and culturally sensitive interpretation is dependent on the experience and skill of human interpreters. Generally, the following factors into the price of any RSI solution:

Interpreter fees

Interpreting partners like Interprefy can source and vet the best match of professional conference interpreters for you. The cost will mainly depend on the event duration, the number, and the combinations of languages required.

Professional support

Your RSI provider assigns a dedicated Project Manager to handle all the logistics of organising interpretation before the event. This includes finding, managing, and briefing interpreters, ensuring that their equipment is working, and coordinating the technical solution setup. Leaving nothing up to chance, reputable interpreting vendors like Interprefy provide technical support throughout the event, like monitoring interpretation and offering hardware and software troubleshooting.

Platform usage

Technology fees for using an RSI platform vary between events. The price is influenced by event complexity, the number of attendees requiring interpretation, and event duration.

Payment models differ between service providers. Some RSI platforms require annual subscriptions, while others, like Interprefy, charge on a per-event basis.

Be sure to work with a service provider who offers the model that best suits you — whether you prefer to only pay for what you use, or want the security of an always-on subscription.

On-site interpretation vs remote interpretation cost comparison

Costs for both strategies are primarily divided into three categories: technology, interpretation, and assistance. However, the challenges of setting up live translation at the event location often result in a higher number and magnitude of cost items.

Remote interpreting can save up to 75% in interpreter costs and an average 50-60% on technology.

With its extensive capabilities and versatility, RSI saves on some of the most significant costs of fully in-person interpretation — without compromising on the quality of service.

Remote simultaneous interpretation can save you up to 75% in interpreter costs and an average saving of 50-60% on technology.

The table below details the costs for in-person interpretation, remote interpretation, and remote interpreting with radio / IR receivers for the audience at the venue.

cost comparison rsi vs on-site_infographic

Which option is best for you?

RSI is significantly less expensive than hiring onsite interpreters while maintaining service quality. It not only reduces direct costs, but also the hidden costs of administrative work on your part.

Interprefy can assist you in facilitating both remote interpreting and hybrid interpretation setups.

If you want the peace of mind that comes with having on-site support, an experienced Interprefy specialist or certified partner can assist you at the event location.

We’ll tailor a simultaneous interpretation solution to match the exact requirements and circumstances of each event, so you get exactly what you pay for.

Get in touch with our team to discuss your event live-translation needs, and explore whether RSI, AI real-time translation, or a combination of both will best suit your needs and budget.

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Patricia Magaz

Written by Patricia Magaz

Learn about the latest developments at Interprefy by Patricia Magaz, Content Strategist at Interprefy.