How do I become a host?
Why do I need an interview and letters of recommendation?
The interview process is an integral part of Servas membership and it’s one of the ways in which Servas is completely unique. We ask that all new members go through an in-person interview with an experienced Servas volunteer in their local area. The interview not only ensures that all Servas members are safe and vetted, but also that they understand and are enthusiastic about our mission of peace through understanding and cultural exchange. The interview also functions as an orientation to Servas; your interviewer will explain the processes and expectations of travel and hosting with Servas.
Letters of recommendation are often required by the interviewer, especially if you have never met your interviewer before. However, this isn’t a professional letter of recommendation: it should be written by someone who knows you well (a partner, relative, friend, neighbor, coworker, etc.) and can attest that you would be a respectful guest in a stranger’s home and/or a welcoming host. You are not required to use our sample letter of recommendation form, but if you’d like to, you can download it here: Letter of recommendation Form
Servas members whose travel and/or host membership has lapsed for more than three years are also asked to complete a “touchbase” interview to get reaquainted with new policies and procedures. This can be over the phone or in person.
Do I need to provide meals or tours?
Your commitment to welcome travelers and participate in a cultural exchange is the basic agreement. Most hosts invite Servas visitors to join their regular meals. Travelers should not expect hosts to prepare special meals for them—part of the home visit is to learn other ways of eating. You should inform travelers in advance whether you will expect them for any meals. As host, you set the tone for the visit and you determine what you would like to do with your visitors; activities outside the house are optional. You need not go out of your way with special tours or entertainment, since travelers are interested in learning about your usual way of life. Travelers often appreciate your taking them to activities you would ordinarily attend, which helps them know more about your life and your community.
On the other hand, Servas travelers are often looking for ways to thank hosts for their hospitality. Meals and activities provide excellent opportunities to repay your kindness. Preparing food for a host family is often a good way to express gratitude while conveying some part of one’s native culture.
What about language barriers? I only speak English.
Hosts and travelers are asked to indicate what languages they speak and their degree of proficiency. These are identified in the host lists and in each traveler’s Letter of Introduction, so that both travelers and hosts can match up according to their ability to communicate with each other.
Most Servas travelers from other countries speak some English. Likewise, many hosts abroad speak some English and/or French, German or Spanish. All international host lists are published in English and use a similar format, codes and abbreviations. (English was selected by the Servas International General Assembly as the language for forms and official communication.)
What does a US host listing look like?
All host listings are in English and arranged in geographical order. Each host listing is organized in the same order, according to the answers each host gave on their host application. Abbreviations are used to minimize space.
How long does the host application process take?
Becoming a host primarily includes filling out the host application and arranging an interview with one of our volunteer interviewers. We recommend allowing yourself three weeks to finish the process, but it is very possible to become a host even sooner.
What if my address or other essential contact information changes?
You may update your host listing at any time by logging into and editing your profile. Hosts are asked to renew annually in the fall to ensure that the information provided for all hosts is current and accurate. Please use this renewal notice as is a timely reminder to review and update your listing.
What is done to insure the safety of Servas hosts?
All Servas travelers have been personally screened and approved by an experienced representative of that Servas country. When screening new potential travelers, interviewers are responsible for: Making sure applicants thoroughly understand the purpose and aims of Servas and are capable of fulfilling these aims. Interviewers evaluate whether Servas is compatible with their travel objectives and make clear what Servas expects of them as travelers and what Servas hosts have a right to expect of them as guests in their homes. Gaining insights from the interview, the interviewer makes an appropriate decision about the prospective Servas traveler.
How can I be sure it is safe to stay with the hosts listed?
Travelers must renew their membership annually and must keep their information updated in the interim. Each renewal is subject to there being no unresolved or unfavorable reports on file. Hosts rely on this screening and approval, verifying that a traveler has a valid and current Letter of Introduction when they arrive.
Must I accept all Servas travelers who request a visit?
Hosts agree to accept travelers without regard to race, creed, sexual orientation, or nationality, but when you choose to welcome travelers into your home is entirely up to you. You should accept travelers only when you have the time, energy and interest for a meaningful Servas exchange. We do ask that all hosts reply to traveler inquiries whether you can host at that time or not. You do not have to give the reason you cannot accept a visitor, just explain that, although you would like to meet her/him, it is not convenient at this time. If you have to cancel on short notice after you have made arrangements, it is customary to try to help make arrangements with another area host or to direct the traveler to your local coordinator for assistance.