Long distance telephone company Tel America is offering customers an alternative to long distance business trips through the use of affordable teleconference calling without the need for operator assistance.

Called Tele-Meeting, the new service allows up to eight people from anywhere in the United States to talk on a single conference call.John Kennedy, corporate director of marketing for Transtel Communications, parent company of Tel America, said the system is easy to use, is convenient and offers significant cost savings.

For example, a six-caller, 10-minute conference call with Tele-Meeting would save the customers a minimum of $30. "This a significant savings in a time when most companies are cutting expenses," he said.

Cost are reduced, he said, because the new program doesn't need operators and Tel America doesn't charge an extra fee for the first minute because it's a flat rate for every minute. Most other long distance companies charge upward of $10 for the first minute, Kennedy said.

Also, a person can leave the conference call and rejoin it without an added fee.