Its mission statement is to ‘re-enchant the language-traveller and put human touch and a sense of sharing back into the relationship between the traveler/student and the host families.’
“Kate & Tao’s aim is not to provide a bed and food but an authentic immersion experience”
The venture allows the student (or ‘Trippies’ as they are known in this case) to choose their host families (‘Chatters’) rather than a homestay agency or local organiser. Kate & Tao’s website states that: “The Trippies will also have the help of a Chatbot to guide them in the process of choice, registration, during and after their program is completed”.
Laetitia Taesch-Larbiere, director of strategy, marketing and communication at SILC, which provide a range of short and long-term language stay programs abroad, describes The Trip as a “genuine immersion in a family that matches your affinities – including hobbies and interests – and that is dedicated to sharing the true immersive homestay experience.”
The host families/Chatters are recruited by independent ‘Spotters’.
“There is no commercial link between the Chatters and the Spotters” explained Taesch-Larbiere.
“This guarantees impartiality. Chatters agree to Kate & Tao’s charter and values, giving a true and genuine sense of hosting. Kate & Tao’s aim is not to provide a bed and food but an authentic immersion experience based on sharing. This is why the affinity matching is important.”
Originally launched in Canada at a cost of under €1,000 for 2 weeks and aimed at the 14-20 age group, the experience will be available in France this autumn and then rolled out to other destinations next summer. Organisers have already said they have received interest from older age groups, too.
Future developments include affinity matching using artificial intelligence, to be developed later in 2018, The PIE understands.