Whether it be for business or pleasure, traveling can often feel lonely: Travelers are typically surrounded by other people, but making that first connection can be difficult.
While waiting for a flight in a crowded airport, William Cooper, co-founder of the startup travel app Abord, noticed the potential for a platform that could initiate conversations between travelers with similar interests, destinations, and trip dates. “At the core of the app, we want to help people plan better trips with more personalization through connection and trip planning,” explains Cooper.
The app prompts new users to create a profile that contains travel dates, locations, and specific interests while traveling. For example, suppose a user indicates they have June travel plans to Paris and loves exploring unique food destinations. In that case, Abord will populate their potential travel connections with other foodie travelers with similar itineraries. The app also plans to integrate discounts and deals from under-the-radar, mom-and-pop businesses in hotspot destinations, enabling travelers to discover new tours, activities, attractions, and shops.
“Connecting with the local community is the best way to experience a new location,” explains Cooper. “We want to partner with small businesses to make sure the experience is authentic for people who are using our app to travel.”
While building Abord, Cooper was thrilled to learn about Stream’s free Maker Account for startups and small teams, as in-app chat is the primary way users can interact with each other while on the road — without giving out their personal contact information such as their cell phone number.
Here, Cooper explains more about Abord’s unique value proposition and how in-app messaging is key to the success of his product.
Why is in-app chat integral to your business model?
In-app chat is at the core of our app. We needed a way for travelers to communicate with each other, and we wanted a messaging platform that could grow with us. We’re starting with basic text communication, and eventually, we’d like to incorporate audio messaging, multimedia messaging, and even video chat functionality.
We’re trying to replicate the ways humans can express themselves with technology and software. Chat is at the heart of that because we want people to have as much capability as possible within the app so they know this is their home base for travel communication.
What appealed to you about the Stream Maker Account?
When we first started building Abord, we used Twilio as a chat infrastructure. When Twilio announced they plan to retire their Programmable Chat, we sought an alternative API chat solution. The Maker Account was great for us because we are just starting out, and we’re trying to figure out how we can get our app launched with the capabilities that we see as essential for the app to function as we intend.
My team is excited about exploring all of Stream’s chat features. Learning about the Maker Account made our day!
How did you make the buy versus build decision for in-app chat?
Our team only has four people, two of whom are technical. Frankly, we didn’t have the engineering resources or funds to build our own chat from scratch.
Our developer estimated that it would have taken him three to six months to build an operable basic chat functionality. It was easy to go with a chat solution like Stream because the API has a robust feature set already built out. Plus, we feel that we can grow with Stream as we acquire more users.
What’s next for Abord?
We’re hoping to have the team beta released by the end of 2021 and the public launch by mid-Spring 2022.
We aim to build the best travel product we can for our market needs and user feedback. We believe that travel has influenced us positively, and we want to share that with other people.
Ready to learn how the Stream Chat API can help your product grow? See if your startup or passion project qualifies for the Maker Account!