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Podcast Episode #15 – These Creators Travel With Their Followers | Lauren Schneider – Trova Trip

podcast-episode-#15-–-these-creators-travel-with-their-followers-|-lauren-schneider-–-trova-trip
Podcast Episode #15 – These Creators Travel With Their Followers | Lauren Schneider – Trova Trip

We’re thrilled to present the latest addition to Afluencer’s content lineup – our podcast series featuring insightful conversations with influential brand owners. In this inaugural article, we have the privilege of introducing Lauren Schneider, the visionary Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer of Trova Trip, as our esteemed guest.

Lauren Schneider, the innovative mind driving Trova Trip, takes center stage in the Afluencer podcast series. With a wealth of experience in the world of influencer marketing, Lauren shares captivating insights, challenges, and triumphs that have shaped her brand’s journey.

Podcast Premiere: Delving into the Trova Trip Universe

Join us in exploring the enchanting world of Trova Trip through the eyes of Lauren Schneider herself. We’ve embedded the riveting YouTube podcast video below, offering an exclusive glimpse into the transformative power of influencer marketing.

Also, listen to the Afluencer Podcast on:

Transcription Insight: A Peek into the Conversation

Gain an insider’s perspective as we burrow into the transcription of our engaging conversation with Lauren Schneider. Discover the strategies, anecdotes, and wisdom that have fueled Trova Trip’ success, all captured in this in-depth transcription.

In Conversation with Lauren Schneider, Co-founder and Chief Customer Officer of Trova Trip:

Brett:

Welcome to our influencer podcast. Today we’ve got something by special demand tro Atrip combines the ability for content creators to monetize and travel, which I know is a holy grail to many of you. So we’re get into the details of that in a moment. And also how you can collab with tro atrip. So this is going to be a very popular podcast we bring on Lauren to chat with us. Lauren, welcome. And can you start off, give us a little bit about your background and your journey as you led into your trove Tripp career?

Lauren:

Yeah, well first and foremost, thanks for having me, Brett. It’s a pleasure to be here today. Happy to share with you a little bit about my background. I actually graduated from the University of Oregon and studied early childhood development and during that time, it was shortly after the oh eight recession, so decided I wanted to take my income into my own hands and decided to move to San Francisco to pursue a career in sales. And that’s where I wound up in advertising. Having sold a number of products, it was really important to me thinking about if I were to ever start a business that I would build and sell a product that I love, something that could have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. And fast forward to where I am today, TRO Atrip is the first ever group travel platform. It makes it possible for creators to take their online communities offline and share life-changing group travel experiences all over the world, and also more importantly, to help them take control over their income.

Brett:

Very cool. That was my last real job also in San Francisco, working for a software company, trying to figure out how I could start my own. Similar to you, one of my roommates who was in advertising were you working for a firm? Marketing firm? Advertising firm?

Lauren:

So I worked in the ad network space. Yep.

Brett:

Okay. Yep. Gotcha. So you knew the online stuff?

Lauren:

Brett:

Yeah. Great, great. Cool. So where’d the idea come from for Rova?

Lauren:

Yeah, so actually I met my co-founder in San Francisco, Nick Ji, and yeah,

Brett:

Good place to meet co-founders.

Lauren:

Great place to meet co-founders. Nick’s very much left brain, he’s very analytical. I tilt towards right, a little bit more creative and we’d always get together, talk entrepreneurial ideas. And it was actually after a group trip, we planned with a bunch of friends to Europe sitting in Krakow, Poland, having some beers. We were talking about how fun it was being able to travel together, but how hard it was to get everything in order from planning the accommodations and airport transfers and who was going to pick book, what activity and drive us in the rental car and so forth. And we decided to look out there and see what was available for young professionals in the group travel space. And it just felt like there wasn’t something that catered to what we were looking for. There was tours for folks a little bit older and tours for students who just graduated from college and there wasn’t really anything in between.

So we decided we wanted to build an experience for young professionals and help bring together like-minded folks, and it was trying to figure out how to build awareness around our company and sell spots on these trips that we decided to explore building an affiliate program, affiliate marketing program. And that’s where we started talking to creators and it was actually having a conversation with a travel blogger who was interested in actually going on the trip. And that’s where we had our first aha moment realizing not only could we solve a problem for young professionals who wanted to travel with like-minded folks, we could also solve a problem for creators who are looking for meaningful ways to deepen the connection with our audience and also make money while doing it.

Brett:

Yeah, very cool. I could see that gap. My parents are flying to Ireland in a few weeks and it’s all booked through aaa, the old maps, the old school maps, I mean, so it’s a different type of trip, but like you said, that’s the traditional travel planning is either you go through AAA and you’re 70 years old or you figure it out yourself. But if you’re going to somewhere like Europe, my wife and I went to Argentina a few years back and luckily I had a friend who was there a few years ago who told me where to exchange money off the black market and all this stuff, this stuff you don’t know, right? If you’re doing it on your own and all that fun stuff. So walk us through the process, Lauren, if I’m a creator, one of our creators listening to this, how do I register? How do I sign up for tro ova? How do I organize a trip? What does that look like?

Lauren:

It’s actually really simple. You go to Trove Tripp, create an account, log into the TRO Tripp platform, and we provide tools for helping creators figure out where to plan their trip to. You can start by surveying your community, whether they’re on TikTok or Instagram or Patreon, and ask them where they’d want to go. And then once you gather enough responses, typically looking for at least 50 responses. You can then look at the audience tab and see where your audience is interested in traveling to what’s their budget preferred time of year, and then also access over a hundred itineraries to select the right experience that aligns their audience interests and figure it out from there to see where you want to go.

Brett:

Very cool. And then what interests are the creators influencers that you work with from? Are we looking at people focus on travel or different interests, niches that just happen to want to do a trip?

Lauren:

That’s a great question. Right now there’s over 550 active hosts and the reality is there’s millions of creators out there, and so anyone who really has an engaged audience and is interested in traveling with their audience in real life, this is the product and platform for you. At the end of the day though, we work with a lot of travel and outdoor creators and lifestyle influencers, thank yoga foodies and so forth.

Brett:

Yeah, that’s great. Have you seen that from the connection standpoint? I know obviously it’s nice to monetize your influence and following and be able to make money from being a creator, but also the connection as you mentioned is important and that kind of goes beyond just the online connection of seeing a post and liking it from a passive standpoint. You actually meet the person, the creator meets their community. Have you seen that really help cement these relationships and help the creator grow their communities more effectively in the long run this way?

Lauren:

Absolutely. I think, well, you think about why we even follow creators, it’s because they’re adding value to our lives. They’re helping us feel this sense of connection and belonging and oftentimes they’re really helpful. I look to creators to figure out what are the cleanest, best organic beauty products I should be using because an overwhelming amount of products. And so if I’m passionate about beauty and then I can go travel the world with a creator who helps add value in my life, it’s so meaningful to me as a consumer. And creators are essentially founders. They’re entrepreneurs just like you and I, Brett, and they are using these online platforms to really build their business. And what a great way to establish a really great connection with your community by traveling the world with them. It really helps deepen that connection by taking them offline. And so I think we’re going to continue to see a trend of creators looking for ways to take their online communities offline.

Brett:

Yeah, it makes sense. Lauren had a call with another entrepreneur yesterday that had just gone through, done the Y Combinator thing and looking at scaling their product and he said, well, you’re going to like to hear this, but the only positive r o i we’ve had is from influencers and creators and the money that we’ve spent there. Which makes sense because if, like you said, if you’re looking for an organic product or any product and the marketing end from your digital days, you go to Google and you type something in and not only the ads or the big brands, but also the first page is all affiliate stuff as well. So how far do you have to flip to get something that you believe? That’s why the appeal working with creators makes sense. So since you work so closely then, what challenges have you noticed from the creator standpoint? What are people struggling with? What have you helped ’em out? What are those big, I guess, hurdles that creators are working through as this part of the economy grows?

Lauren:

Sadly, I don’t think creators are being taken seriously enough by businesses, and I think it’s really important that folks start viewing creators as entrepreneurs and their founders, like I said earlier. And the reality is is that the influencer marketing space is a 21 billion industry. It is growing year over year. And at the end of the day, if you are interested in working with creators or you’re creator interested in working with brands, finding those mutually beneficial partnerships is so important. I think back to when we first started Rova Tripp, when I was trying to build an affiliate program, most of the creators told me that they wouldn’t promote tro atrip and listening went on a trip and experienced it themselves. It’s because they have brand integrity and if they’re going to promote something, they better believe in it. And so I think it’s going to be interesting to see how that shifts as the creator of space continues to grow. And one thing that we have observed at Tripp is most creators, just like entrepreneurs struggle with imposter syndrome, especially when it comes to planning a group trip. There’s that fear of are they actually going to want to go travel the world with me and meet me in real life? And I think that the host, that’s what we call creators when they’re hosting a trip, are equally as nervous as the travelers who are going on that trip.

Brett:

Is that kind of leap of faith as you head into it? Yeah, that’s a great point. From our standpoint, we see there’s this, I guess chasm between, you’re in the creator space, you get it, you see what creators are doing. You accurately, I think mentioned, right? They’re entrepreneurs, they’re like us, right? They’re founders, they’re their own business and brand. And I was chatting with someone yesterday as well, I would say a little on the older school side of the affiliate programs where there’s that mindset, Hey, I can just toss an affiliate program out there. I’ll have people sign up. I’m giving you 10 or 20% commission. I’m not giving you any product. You don’t know anything about us, and who knows if we’ll ever pay you? That just seems outdated, I guess to me. I tell ’em like, it can still kind of work, but you’re kind of 10 years ago now where, I mean, you think about anyone whose values are work, they want to be paid upfront, they want to promote something you believe in.

You’ve got followers who you’re potentially traveling with. You don’t want to just recommend something because you’re trying to make a $49 commission check. It’s kind of where it’s going. So it’ll be interesting to see how that evolves. I mean, the media couldn’t be any more. The media seems to have wrote off influencers five years ago, and I don’t know, part of that was just the celebrity influencer thing where hey, Kardashians are charging a million dollars a post. It doesn’t R o i, so the whole thing doesn’t work versus the creators today where it’s a more organic community type thing. Which leads me to my next question, which I just thought of on the fly. What sizes of followings are you seeing? Are you seeing on these trips? Are we talking micro influencers? Are we talking like 10,000 followers, a hundred thousand followers? I mean, what’s the size of that following to have that translate into real life where people are actually traveling with each other?

Lauren:

Yeah, I could see you were going with that and I knew you were going to ask because at the end of the day, it’s not how big your following is. It’s really how engaged are they and how authentic and relatable are you as a creator. Do you actually have time to reply to comments when you do a post answer questions when someone slides into your dms? And so we have seen creators be successful offering trips to the TRO trip platform who have 5,000 followers all the way up to a million. But I would say our sweet spot is typically between 10 and 300,000 followers. As you can imagine, that’s an easier audience to continue to stay active in terms of communication and maintain. It can get a little out of control when you have millions of followers, and it’s probably hard for the creator to stay close to their community and foster that sense of community.

Brett:

Yeah, great point. Yeah, there’s nothing like having the creator on responding to comments and they know them at least from an online virtual standpoint where they’re replying and they see the same names and maybe they follow them as well. So there’s that back and forth at that size. So very cool. That TRO trip also utilizes influencer marketing. So what kind of influencers are you currently looking for to continue to work with and grow?

Lauren:

Yeah, it’s so funny because at the end of the day, influencers are our customers. They are who we serve. We built this product for them to help them find ways to generate income, also get really cool content traveling the world and experience these life-changing trips with their communities. So it’s been really fun to watch our creators take group travel into their own hands and see how they market and share this with their communities to get people excited about traveling with them. Of course, we provide tools to make it easier for them, like the survey, and part of that tool is helping them build their email list and collect emails. We typically find when a creator gathers at least a hundred emails and survey responses, they’re 83% more likely to sell their trip and be able to offer multiple trips as they continue to gather more emails. And email marketing is one of the services the Tropo Tripp platform provides for creators to help them sell their trips to their community.

Brett:

That’s a great point. That’s something that I think it’s, if you say only in the online world or I am sure you talk with new founders often Lauren and everyone thinks social media. Social media, I got to do everything on social. I got to have the Instagram followers. And then you’ll say, Hey, don’t forget your email list. And they’ll say, what wasn’t that like 20 years ago? But actually that’s the same for us. We do a weekly newsletter out to influencers where we’ll be promoting this podcast in the TRO trip collab, and the emails work great. I mean, they work better from a conversion standpoint. Then social media, I find social media is great for staying in touch, but these email lists are great and it gets overlooked. And I think it’s awesome that you’re teaching the creators to do that because that’s a great way for them to monetize their following and further connect.

Lauren:

Absolutely. And it’s all about the content you’re offering, and if you are emailing things that your audience are interested in traveling the world with them, you’re going to see that high engagement and it’s a great way to get products in front of your customers that they actually love and want to learn more about, or content that’s just really adding value. So it’s exciting to see some of our creators then taking these lists and downloading them to, to continue to figure out ways to engage with their community.

Brett:

That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s very cool. So I’ll get you out of here on this one. Lauren, what are your, must have must see visits, destinations, amazing experiences. Where do we need to go if we haven’t already been?

Lauren:

Gosh, it’s sometimes hard to pick because there’s over 150 itineraries in the TRO trip platform and we’re now operating in every single continent with our recent trip to Antarctica, launching and selling. But I would say look to Costa Rica, look to Thailand. Patagonia is incredible. If you love hiking in the outdoors, there’s such a wide range of experiences that you can actually browse through the Rova trip marketplace to see what’s available of good places to visit.

Brett:

Yeah, great. Alright. TRO Trip Marketplace, and then where can they find us and where can they find you? So Lauren Schneider, I introduced you just single name Lauren, kind of like Prince, that famous co-founder. Is that your title? Do you have a cool title and something?

Lauren:

Yeah, so co-founder and chief customer officer. That’s everything I do is really centered around how are we providing a world-class experience for our customers and building a product to better serve them.

Brett:

That’s great. Yeah. Lauren Schneider, co-founder, chief customer officer. And how can our influencers creators find TRO Tripp, TRO Tripp collabs, all this good stuff?

Lauren:

Follow us on TRO Ova Tripp Instagram social account, visit our website. It’s so easy if you’re interested in hosting trips to your community to go create accounts. I encourage anyone who’s looking to travel the world and make a little money and really deepen that connection with their community to visit tro tripp.com and check out what we have to offer.

Brett:

Awesome. Cool. Thank you, Lauren. And we’ll get the link to your current collabs underneath the videos here as well. With the posting, you always have new, fresh, active collabs that are exciting. So for our influencer listeners will get that underneath here as well, so they can click apply and you can connect from there. Well thanks Lauren. This has been great. Really enjoyed the chat.

Lauren:

Amazing. One thing I did want to add too that we didn’t really touch on was the fact that one of the benefits to hosting a TRO trip is building community and also making money, but it’s really about the connections formed. We have had travelers go on to become roommates. In fact, two engagements have happened on a trip so far, really one of our earliest hosts who started hosting TRO trips in 2019 met her surrogate on a TRO trip and now has a baby because of it and is still planning and offering trips through TRO trips. So at the end of the day, we are just helping people find their community everywhere in the world, and it’s pretty magical.

Brett:

That’s awesome. Yeah, that is great. That’s very cool. It goes beyond, we’re always talking about the numbers from a monetize this or number of followers, this and that’s great. Especially today after kind of got shut down in 2020 where we all became more virtual like this, and it hasn’t really come back to before. A lot of us are still working virtual. I’ve been going doing my own thing for a while, so I kind of go to an office with my dog and that’s that. But that’s a lot of the world now. I used to be the weirdo and now that’s a lot of people, which that’s kind of crazy, especially if you’re just graduating from college, you’re young, you want to socialize, you’re still getting established and all of a sudden you don’t have an office to go to, so you don’t have that day-to-day interaction. The in-person connections, which are so important as you said.

Lauren:

Yeah, it’s so important. And the pandemic definitely threw us a curve ball. It was such a depressing dime. I mean, everyone was in quarantine, and it was during this time that people looked to social media and looked to creators and online communities to feel that deeper sense of belonging and connection. And it’s kind of wild because you think as a travel company that, I mean, it would be a business killer, but for us, we experienced over a thousand percent growth from 2020 to 2022. And it’s because creators during this time we’re forming deeper connections with their communities and everyone wanted to travel when it was safe to travel. And it’s just really wild to see how much the creator space has grown, how more than ever people are craving that sense of connection and they want to get out of that at-home office and go actually experience the world with other people.

Brett:

That’s wild. That was going to be my next question then, what you had to do to keep the business afloat through 2020 when there was basically no travel.

Lauren:

It was really slow March of 2020 and into April. But during that time, we actually listened to our customers and what we were hearing from our customers creators specifically was that they wanted to travel when it was safe to travel, and they actually wanted to go check bucket list destinations off their checklist. So we actually started adding more supply during a time where no one was looking to plan travel, and we added itineraries to the Galapagos to be able to summit Kilimanjaro or practice yoga New Zealand. And we added more domestic itineraries here in the United States like backpacking and Coyote Gulch so that when you could travel, you could do it outside and it would feel safer. And so by May of 2020, we had our biggest booking month that we ever did have pre pandemic by May.

Brett:

Lauren:

May of 20 twenty’s amazing. But we started planning trips 12 months into the future, which typically with group travel, you’re planning about six plus months out. So it’s about double the time. We typically would plan a trip, and we just had to roll with continuous changes and different variants and kept rescheduling trips during that time until it was go time. And it was actually last year, we operated our biggest number of trips we ever had. We completed 310 trips, and we managed to maintain a 4.6 out of five star reviews from our customers. And so really excited about how we were able to turn covid into something positive, which I don’t know if many people can say that.

Brett:

No. Right. It was a pretty short list of the onlines, the Zoom, peloton, Shopify. Right.

Lauren:

Brett:

Even from their standpoint, it wasn’t necessarily, it was all this five years of demand coming in at once. So that’s awesome that you’re able to create that. And like we said, now, there’s still this need for connection and travel, and I think people are, they’re still catching up on trips, still catching up on in-person gatherings that just were missed for a long time. So it’s a big task.

Lauren:

And millennials and Gen Zs still continue to prioritize experiences over things, and they look to creators when it comes to making travel decisions. So I think we’re really uniquely positioned in the fact that we get to help these millennial and Gen Zs travel the world in a better way. I think that the group travel space needed some disruption, and TRO Tripp offers a better way to travel.

Brett:

It is very cool. And it blows the minds of the parents, the older generation. I know my parents, my in-law is more of the accumulate stuff. They don’t mind the experiences, but it’s more about having, what are you driving, that type of thing. Right. It is a generational thing, but it’s cool for the millennials, gen Z, that it’s more experiential

Lauren:

For sure. Definite shift there. Yeah.

Brett:

Very cool. Cool, cool. Anything else, Lauren, before I let you go?

Lauren:

No, not that I can think of.

Brett:

Good, good. Okay, cool. Cool. Yeah, so we’ll have it anyway. We’ll have it edited, so we will just flow straight in because that was great. I’m glad you kept it going on that and then had me think of other things. So that was awesome.

Lauren:

Good stuff. Well, Brett, it was so lovely to meet you.

Brett:

Cool. Thank you, Lauren. Yeah, really nice to meet you too. Great to chat with you and we will talk trip soon.

Lauren:

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Reflecting on a Journey of Innovation and Influence

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Brett:

That’s excellent. So Carol, we’ll get the collab link below the show notes here so that people can easily see it apply and we’ll get those connections there for everyone watching this influences watching this, who want to work with side by side, let’s talk about other ways then to connect with you, and I’ll get you out of here on this one you mentioned as we’re getting ready to hop on the call, doing a show out here in Northern California, barking the park on September 16th in San Jose. So we’ve got opportunity for local people, at least in our neck of the woods to come see side by side. What else do you have going on and how can people connect with you online in terms of social as your website and all this good stuff?

This originally appeared on afluencer and is available here for wider discovery.
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