Virtual Event Platform Enhances Attendee Experience With Real-Time Chat
How event management and marketing company Accelevents integrated Stream Chat to create a reliable, scalable, and engaging user experience.
Challenge: The pandemic was a boon to the virtual events industry, and Accelevents experienced massive growth. Already moving towards a hybrid model, the company was well positioned to evolve with the market. To provide a unique and dynamic experience for their growing user base, the Accelevents team needed an adaptable chat solution that could launch quickly and support events at scale.
Strategy: After realizing they needed more flexibility than a Web Real-Time Communication (WebRTC) solution could offer, the Accelevents team evaluated several dedicated chat vendors. Stream’s performance, reliability, and scalability convinced them to integrate the React and React Native Chat SDKs and the Chat UI Kit. Accelevents’ developers customized the SDK features to meet the specific needs of their platform and created a prototype in less than a week.
Result: Accelevents’ confidence in Stream Chat has allowed its developers to focus on building out other platform features to differentiate their event experience from competitors, and launching them faster, too.
Founded by Jonathan Kazarian in 2015, Accelevents is an all-in-one event management platform for virtual, hybrid, and in-person events that empowers hosts to expand their reach, engage with their audiences, and drive growth.
“Events take up 25% of B2B marketing budgets. A salesperson has a CRM, a marketer has a marketing automation solution, but event professionals have never had a home. They’ve never had a solution that's the experience creation tool but also the system of record for the vast amount of attendee, exhibitor, and sponsorship data that’s being captured. We’re bringing those two giant pieces together for event organizers and businesses to think about their holistic event programs,” Kazarian says.
Not only is Accelevents dedicated to improving the virtual event organization experience, it equally prioritizes the attendee experience. Chat is a core tenant of creating an engaging virtual events atmosphere. Since any number of attendees could spectate from anywhere in the world, Accelevents needed a messaging infrastructure that could support a high volume of users and simultaneous interactions.
Image Source: Accelevents
The Build vs. Buy Dilemma
The top factors influencing Accelevents’ build vs. buy decision were time-to-market, flexibility, feature performance, product innovation, and scalability.
Given the gold rush of virtual events at the onset of the pandemic, the company’s engineers needed to focus on developing areas of the platform that would set it apart from the crowd. Kazarian quickly realized that building a sophisticated chat functionality from scratch would be time-consuming and require the lion’s share of Accelecents’ engineering resources, plus allocating even more of them down the line to cover in-house maintenance and product innovation. To stay competitive, the company needed a solution that could be launched in record time and would successfully support events with months of preparation behind them.
Integrating Stream with Accelevents
After scoping out a handful of WebRTC solutions and dedicated chat providers, Accelevents decided on Stream Chat. The company saw Stream as a true partner in innovation and appreciated that Stream was sensitive to the fact that monthly active users (MAU) are measured slightly differently in the event space than on a traditional chat app. But most importantly, Accelevents’ decision to purchase a ready-made chat component allowed its team to iterate on other platform features.
Kazarian had this to say about it: “It (Stream Chat) is another tool that has spared us from having to reinvent the wheel, reinvent the architecture while providing us the granular control, the scalability, the reliability and the analytics layer that we need to really free our engineers up to focus on the differentiated user experience.”
The company integrated Stream’s React Chat SDK to support frontend development and leveraged the React Native SDK and UI Kit to build the mobile experience. “The UI Kit was definitely a plus for us. It helped us get started faster,” Kazarian added.
Game-Changing Chat Features
It took less than a week for the Accelevents engineers to build a working prototype with Stream Chat. They found it exceedingly performant, flexible, and reliable right from the start. Kazarian said, “In order to be able to deliver even a fraction of what we’re using today, we would have had to allocate a team of engineers.
Image Source: Accelevents
A few of the React and React Native chat SDK features they found most useful for virtual events were presence indicators, slow mode, and push notifications.
The user presence indicators gave speakers and hosts insight into how many people attended each session. Kazarian adds, “Beyond just chat if you’re going to step into a virtual expo booth, you want to know someone’s there before you enter.” The presence indicators signaled to attendees that someone was waiting in the virtual booth to assist them, which boosted engagement.
Kazarian had this to say about slow mode, “When you have 10,000+ people watching a broadcast, you need to clean-up the noise. Slow mode allowed us the control we needed to ensure the chat was a net positive for the viewer experience. ”
Push notifications also proved to be especially helpful. The company’s events all have a virtual lobby where organizers could post on a virtual message board. Thanks to Stream Chat’s push notifications, all of that information got pushed out to attendees.
What’s Next for Accelevents?
It’s been two years since Accelevents began its partnership with Stream to create a world-class chat messaging experience for event organizers and attendees.
With the slow reintroduction of in-person events, Accelevents is excited to leverage the best aspects of its virtual event tech to reimagine its relationship to in-person events.
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