Host Resources

How to be a Great Host Part 1: Leading up to Your TrovaTrip

Pre-travel tips and strategies to absolutely nail your trip

A group of Travelers in Thailand.

Pop quiz, hotshot: what’s the ultimate travel essential for a TrovaTrip? We’re talking must-have. We’re talking make or break. We’re talking the difference between a dream trip and a total 1*, never-want-to-travel-again experience.

If you said anything other than “Host,” that's 10 points from Gryffindor! A great Host is, without question, the most crucial part of TrovaTrip. Of course, the destination, group, and Guide are all super important but without a Host, none of that really matters because–like a conductor or a quarterback–the Host is the one who brings it all together and makes it all work.

We’ve touched on the different roles folks play in a TrovaTrip before, but in this 2-part series we’ll really explore what you can do to be a great Host before and during your group trip. If you’ve ever wondered how to put your Travelers at ease, how to stay on schedule, and how to create the kind of environment that leads to rave reviews (and demand for more trips!) look no further. Well, actually do look a little further because this is just the intro. All the actionable goodness is down below…

Key takeaways

Know your role!

Being a Host is a bit of a balancing act. On one hand, you’re getting paid to travel (hello, #DreamJob) but on the other hand, you’re not entirely on vacation. You’ll need to be a resource and a leader for your group. After all, most of them probably signed up because they follow you and like your content. So naturally they’ll look to you for answers, support, and as the key member the community can rally around. Deliver on that and you’ll have loyal Travelers for life.

A person on a video chat on their laptop.

Connect with your Travelers

Chances are you’ve been talking to your community about the trip already (tips for promoting and confirming here), but once they sign up and officially become Travelers, you’ll want to kick the communication up a notch. Connecting personally breaks the ice, lets them know you care, and guards against cancellations by keeping their interest from falling off. Sure, they “know” you as a social media Creator, but now it’s time to interact one-on-one and start building a real connection. There are a couple of ways to do this and we strongly recommend doing both!

  • Group chat – Create a private Facebook group or Slack channel, and add people to it as soon as they book. Folks might be a little shy at first so, as a Host, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself and get the conversation going. Then stay involved by asking questions, exchanging travel tips, and generally creating a safe space that has everyone engaged and looking forward to meeting IRL. At after the booking window closes (usually 50-60 days before a trip starts), a group chat on the Trova app so you can all stay connected and easily communicate throughout the trip.
  • Video chat – Whether through Zoom, Google Hangouts, or another platform, putting faces to names will help folks feel even more comfortable with each other. Take a poll in the group chat to find a time that works, then set it up yourself, and drop the link for your Travelers. Don’t forget to set a reminder so you can pop in a little early and welcome everyone as they join. This is a great opportunity to play get-to-know-you games (find at least one you like ahead of time) and suss out the group dynamic as a whole.

💡 Trova tip: When using group chat, check your settings beforehand to ensure your phone number and/or email are hidden and that you can only be contacted in a way you’re comfortable with.

Stick to the schedule

In the words of American hero Ferris Bueller, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, your group could miss crucial deadlines for your upcoming TrovaTrip.” Okay, that might not be the exact quote but you get the idea. With everything your Travelers have going on in their lives, it can be difficult to keep track of all the important dates. Sending them reminders will help keep things running smoothly, make your group feel taken care of, and cement you as their informal leader/savior.

Deadlines to keep in mind are:

  • When you and your Travelers need passports by
    • Here is a cheatsheet from the U.S. Department of State as of August 2023. Please note that these estimates may change based on demand and external factors (yep, we're talking about you @Covid). Please refer to this page for current processing times.
      • Current Processing Times (applied on or after March 24, 2023)
        • Routine - 10 to 13 weeks
        • Expedited - 7 to 9 weeks
        • Expedited at Agency - Must have international travel within 14 calendar days
  • When to book flights (purchase after the trip becomes confirmed)
  • The last day to pay
  • The last day to book a spot
  • When to submit your/their trip forms

💡 Trova tip: Because these dates vary from trip to trip, keep an eye on the 'Important Dates' section located in the portal.

An example of important dates in the TrovaTrip Host portal.

You don’t have to send a long email (we’ll do that and it’ll probably get buried in their inbox—shoutout to buying something from an Instagram ad once and then receiving emails about it every day for the rest of your life). Instead, just drop a quick message into the group chat before each date to let everyone know they’re in good hands.

Go the extra mile

Think back to your best customer service experience ever. The interaction that made you feel like you were more than just walking money and business was suddenly personal in a good way. Maybe you needed help solving a problem or a little empathy on a tough day. Maybe someone simply went out of their way to make sure you, as a fellow human, were comfortable. Whatever it was, tapping into that feeling as a Host can be what turns a trip into a world-class travel experience.

In addition to chatting and giving friendly reminders, our most successful Hosts make an effort to nurture their Travelers before the trip starts. This can include writing personalized postcards, sending out (economical) goodie bags, creating customized packing lists or hiking guides, opening DMs to sensitive questions, and generally putting their personal touch on the whole process.

A group of Travelers with Host @thekatieduke and gift bags.

And don’t worry, you’re not going to turn into your group’s secretary. If there’s something you don’t know or don’t want to say, direct Travelers to or have them give us a call at +1-877-698-7682 and we’ll take care of it. Once you’re on-trip, your local Guide will take point in handling questions and troubleshooting issues.

But what if it’s too much, you might ask? What if I’m being a helicopter Host? Totally fair concern and there’s definitely a point when helping crosses into nagging. If you’re ever feeling worried or self-conscious about being extra, though, just try and remember what it was like when you were on a group trip or on your first trip abroad. What do you wish would’ve been done, or not done, for you? Was there something that made you happy or more open? Put yourself in those shoes, then trust your experience and instincts. Ultimately, Hosts who are proactive about reaching out report having groups that are bonded from the very beginning and enthusiastic about–not only traveling–but traveling with you.

That’s it…for Part 1

Hopefully, you have the tools now to get started on the right foot, but there’s still a whole other aspect to being a great Host. Namely, what to do once travel actually begins. In Part 2, we’ll discuss how to build on your pre-trip foundation to deliver an experience that surpasses expectations and makes you the kind of Host that folks will follow anywhere. Literally.

Until next time, we'll leave you with a little Traveler-review 💫 inspo:

“I had such an incredible time in Costa Rica!!! I truly can’t think of anything I’d change other than wishing I’d extended my trip. Our Host Holly was amazing !! With this being her first trip she balanced professionalism with personability perfectly! She put so much effort into making sure everyone was as comfortable as possible while giving everyone the space to enjoy their trip the way they wanted to. And she brought everyone little gifts ?! She honestly went above and beyond.”

Read part 2 about how to be a great Host on-trip!