The contents of this page are a compilation of best practices from different Servas National groups. Final approval for this page is pending approval by the Servas International Executive Committee.
Getting your Letter of Introduction
- The Letter of Introduction (LOI) is your Servas “Passport”. It lets your hosts know that you are a verified member of Servas, authorized to travel.
LOIs are valid for a maximum of 1 year.
- If you are travelling with friends, they must also be Servas members with valid LOIs.
- To complete your LOI, you must first have the role of “Traveller” assigned by a local administrator. This will allow you to see the “Letter of Introduction” section of the profile. Once you have completed this, your administrator will validate it.
- The procedure for getting your LOI varies from country to country. Some countries may still be using paper LOIs. If you don’t know the procedure in your country, you can get information from a local coordinator. To find a coordinator:
- Go to the “Find Members” page
- Select “Coordinator” under “Member Type”
- Enter your country and region
- In “list view” click on “complete profile” to find the contact information.
- You can search for hosts in the “Find Members” section of ServasOnline. Select the search criteria that are important for you to narrow your search. Caution: the more factors you use, the fewer hosts you will find. If you eliminate too many members, remove some of your search criteria.
- You can locate a country’s hosts on a map (Map View) or view brief details in a list (list view). Click on “View Complete Profile” to see more details.
- Note: If you find very few members in a country, it is possible that the country does not have all their records in ServasOnline yet. Contact your local administrator for more information and to get a pdf host list for the countries you plan to visit.
- Some members have not yet marked themselves on the map. When this happens, they are all grouped together in the center of a region.
- Once you have viewed members in a region, select ones you are interested in, filter them, and create your own host lists. You can download and save or print them.
- For more information on finding hosts, visit “Help” on the Find Members page.
- The host profile contains information to help you contact them, such as the best means of contact, their hosting capacity and the amount of notice they require. Please respect these requests.
- Do not copy requests for hosting to a large group of hosts; it is usually obvious, and hosts may simply not respond. It could also result in multiple offers for the same night.
- If you decide for any reason not to visit a host that has offered accommodation or day hosting, contact them immediately.
- With your first contact, let hosts know that you have a valid LOI. If you contact them by phone or through a ServasOnline message, direct them to your profile, or offer to send the LOI.
- Servas Hosts in areas with many tourists often have far more guests than they can accept. Servas hosts farther from these areas often have few travellers, and may be eager for more visitors. Look also for the note “Want more travellers”.
- Be sure to discuss important details with your hosts: when will you arrive, and when will you leave? Will you have eaten when you come, and will meals be provided? Do you have special requirements (such as type of bed, diet, etc.)?
- If a lot of time has elapsed since you contacted a host, confirm the date and time of your arrival again shortly before your expected arrival time.
- If you are phoning, call before 9 p.m.
- On arriving at a host’s home always offer to show your LOI, even if you have emailed it.
- The goal of Servas is not inexpensive travel — Servas exists to bring together people from different cultures to promote peace, understanding and to learn how people live. Please remember this when you travel.
- Your hosts are not hotels — treat your hosts like you would your friends. Offer to help with dishes and other housework. Like friends, hosts have different expectations and comfort levels with how much you help and how much time they spend with you.
- Always contact your host as early as you can if plans change, you will be late, or you have to cancel.
- Spend time with your Servas hosts. This is the reason Servas exists. If you are attending a conference and have little time to spend with your hosts, consider a hotel instead.
- The typical Servas stay is a minimum and maximum of 2 nights. Some hosts welcome visitors for one night. This option was recently added to Servas, and may not be known by all hosts, so if you hope to stay only one night, check with hosts first. Hosts can offer an extended stay if they choose but travellers should not expect or request this.
- Some hosts will be able to show you around the area, but others will have less time or ability to do so. Don’t expect a tour guide. If hosts do show you around, offer to pay for expenses. You may also be able to find a Day Host in the area to spend some time with.
- Accommodations provided will vary greatly, and some hosts may not be able to provide all the conveniences (or even the standards of cleanliness) that you have at home. Tolerance and an open mind are essential for Servas travellers. If you have particular needs, be sure to discuss them with your hosts ahead of time.
- Hosts may not require a sleeping bag or sheet, but if you can, offer to bring one to reduce housekeeping for the hosts.