Breaking News From TrustedHousesitters CEO Mathew Prior

“We couldn’t have done it without you” | A message from Mathew Prior, CEO of TrustedHousesitters

"Hi all,

I wanted to get in touch and share some good news about what’s been going on here at TrustedHousesitters.

Firstly, I want to begin by saying thank you. While 2021 may not have started quite how some of us had hoped, this year we’ve been so happy to see a steady return to travel and the lifestyle our members know and love so well. And this year, as always, you have blown us away with your incredible, continued support" >>> Read Mathew’s full message to our community :point_down:

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Personally, I have been very unhappy with how TrustedHousesitters have treated their community in the past 18 months. I’d prefer the additional investment to mean lower membership fees and better customer support, rather than a somewhat vague promise of more sitters and more pets.

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I am very happy with THS and feel like there is a real community spirit on this forum. I also understand that a CEO has a desire to grow & extend the company, but agree with @DanielS that there are long-standing issues that need to be resolved soon. (customer service + review system)

I believe THS is still the market leader and I have been more than happy with them & have no desire to change, but from this forum it becomes clear that there are quite a few disgruntled members too.
I’m sure this is taken into account, so looking forward some updates in the near future. :wink:

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I agree with comments made by @DanielS and @Els
It is extremely good news that THS has secured new investment but I am concerned too that we should not be trying to attract new members until an improved support structure is fully operational.
The amount of threads that are opened by new members who cannot make any contact with THS whatsover, backed up by negative comments on TrustPilot is embarrassing.
The site needs a better IT platform to remove these daily “glitches” and a better Customer Contact Service.

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Having joined THS in 2021 I’m glad to hear that there’s optimism and potential growth even amidst the situation of the past 18 months.

As to the previous comments on wanting to better the services and platform I think the CEO addresses those concerns when he mentions :
“This funding also gives us an incredible opportunity to further invest in our product and our team. Because of all your feedback over the past year, we have some great starting points on where we can continue to improve and better your experience, from enhanced safety features to product upgrades. ”

Can’t wait to welcome our first sitters in December.

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I would like THS to look at the service as it is now before it looks towards expansion. Looking at the current number of house sits in the UK and US (around 2000 combined) in comparison to sitters available in these countries (around 18000 combined) the ratio seems to be getting a little out of control. Yes, those figures don’t take into account sitters or sits from other countries, but it does begin to look like the number of sitters is beginning to outstretch the amount of house sits available. I know this is not an easy situation to remedy, but you must start to look at possibly capping the number of new sitters if it is considerably higher than new HO’s.

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I have been carrying out a little research on the investment injected by Rockpool. It appears that Rockpool were to invest in 2018 when the number of employees had increased from 25 to 50. That investment was to be repaid by 2022 together with annual interest of 10%.
It is not apparent whether that investment went ahead.
This new investment will go towards THS expansion of their customer base with the focus on California.
It is quoted that there have been 30,000 new members in 2021.
The number of employees at the moment is 91 with an executive team of 11.
This present investment will need to be repaid in the short term and maybe that is why membership fees have increased.
The investment company must be optimistic that the IT platform and Customer Service is sufficient for this expansion but if new owners and sitters cannot find sittings then they may cancel their membership putting the company at risk.

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I’m sorry, but you can’t judge this last two years on how the company operates. NOTHING is how it was two years ago. I’m so very happy to have found this service and will never stop until we no longer have a need for a sitter.

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@long1016 What utter nonsense. When better to judge a company than when the chips are down? The past 18 months would have been the perfect opportunity for TrustedHousesitters to show how much they valued their community. They did next to nothing to alleviate the issue of costly memberships that were going to waste due to travel restrictions. Not only that, but they brought in a significant price increase once restrictions began to be lifted. All the while their customer service, which has always been poor, has dwindled to near extinction.

Don’t get me wrong; I love TrustedHousesitters. I have been a member for years and will happily recommend the site to anybody. I just take exception to their thanks and praise of their community, which I now believe to be insincere.

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@Rob and @Itchyfeet, thank you for the statistics you provided and @Provence and @DanielS , your observations and opinions are valid. There are things that could be better, but I do want to give a shout-out to THS for their responsive veterinary service. I needed to contact the THS vet this past weekend. My HO’s regular vet was closed at that time and the emergency veterinary clinic was walk-in only with a 3-4 hour wait. The THS veterinary nurse answered promptly, asked the important questions and gave her opinion and recommendation, which turned out to be correct. Because of this information, I was able to provide guidance to my HO, which they appreciated and which helped them get effective treatment for their sick doggie. I was more than pleased!

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Hi Mathew,
Great news! Will you be investing into more templated documents, forms, agreements, police screening and tools for members to use? This would help keep everyone more safe. Trusting a stranger after reading a profile, meeting on a video call and emailing could be dangerous if members trust the wrong person(s). I think there’s a safety aspect of your service that could be improved with these types of tools and screening.

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No reply from Mathew regarding any of the concerns raised above, no reply from admin regarding any of the concerns raised above…lots of photos of doors, sunsets etc moving this thread out of the way though!

Hi @Rob Mathew will be responding to member’s comments.

It has only been two days since his announcement went up here on the forum, there was an email which went to our entire global community also. Taking time zone differences into account we thought it prudent to allow time for the other members of our community to bring their thoughts and comments to the forum if they so wished and address accordingly.

Thank you.

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Further to my comments I have been in DM with @Angela-CommunityManager and shared my sources from the internet with her.
The number of employees was quoted as at 2021 therefore not pre-pandemic. It is now apparent that this number has been incorrectly reported.
Angela states that the number, as at September 2021, is 43 employees and 5 Exec team members.

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Hi Rob
Some of us choose not to get involved in the politics of THS. I use it as a introduction to people who would like their animals looked after in their own homes, nothing else. So far, three or four years of membership, we have dealt with any problems on our own and never had to ask THS to step in. Yes, we have been lucky, or maybe thorough when setting up house sits. The only thing that we have actually used is the vet line which I would highly recommend. I have made comments in the past about the new membership bands which I disagreed with.
The forum is a way, for me, to connect with like minded people. Posting pictures and positive feel good stories are a nice way of spending a hour. We all know businesses like to make the correct noises but only a few actually pay attention to what their clients say/want. My philosophy is your on your own and it’s up to good communication, trust and a little bit of “hold your nose and jump”.

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Hi there everyone. Thanks for all your feedback. This forum has been a huge labour of love over the last 14 months and we’re pleased that members are using it so much and in a huge variety of ways.

To address your specific points:

Membership fees. I’m pleased to say that our basic membership is only £10 higher than it was many years ago. You will know that we recently implemented a tiered membership structure to enable us to offer a wider range of benefits but the basic tier, offering full access to the platform, is in line with where it has been for many years. We are delighted to see so many members now enjoying the new benefits and insurance policies which are designed to add extra layers of comfort, but remain optional ensuring that members who don’t want them do not have to pay.

Our service. Firstly, I’d like to sincerely apologise to anyone who has had problems contacting us in the last few months. I can imagine how frustrating this has been. The pandemic and subsequent recovery have been unpredictable and tricky for our Membership Services team to manage. Regrettably, we found ourselves behind the curve on scaling back up, leading to understandable frustration among members and to our brilliant team working as hard as possible to answer your queries. You will be pleased to hear that we have recently recruited some excellent new TrustedTeam members and our service levels are now improving. I am committed to ensuring that we continue to make improvements to the service you receive and we are working to extend our coverage to include 24 hour support for the whole community in the coming weeks. About 40% of the Trusted Team today are in member-facing roles.

Website / app usability issues. This forum has been extremely helpful in identifying problems that require fixing. Threads such as this are really valuable for us! Thanks for taking the time to give us your feedback. We will continue to improve the site for all members, and are very aware that there remain some significant areas to address such as the review system. Some of the improvements we make are more visible than others, and more relevant to different parts of the community but please be assured that we dedicate about 50% of our development capacity to improving the experience of members. As we grow, it’s really important to us that we continue to improve the usability of the site and app.

Headcount/investment: We have a team of 43 of whom 5 (including myself) are the execs. The investment will not need to be repaid in the short term. It is there for us to grow the business sustainably over the long term.

Owner & sitter numbers. We know it is important to keep this ratio in balance and it is something we look at every day. Our objective is always for members to be successful, whichever side of the platform they are on - a huge amount of new business is driven by word of mouth, and that only comes from successful, satisfied members. We are currently acquiring new owner members at a higher rate than sitters and in absolute terms, we have more owner members than sitters.

Finally, on growth. We strongly believe that enabling our members and their pets to enjoy successful, safe, enjoyable sits is the first priority. This means attracting the right type of members to our community - owners who share our vision that pets are happiest being looked after in their own environment by a loving, trusted sitter; and sitters who share our love our pets and are willing to provide this care in exchange for a unique homestay and life experience. Attracting more members means more opportunity for everyone and, most importantly, more happy pets. That’s why we’ve raised this money, and we look forward to sharing the future with you!

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Thanks Mathew, in regards of owners/sitters ratio can you please provide the figures to support the claims you make.

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Thank you for your response. I find the pricing so very reasonable. What some folks don’t seem to understand or remember is how expensive it is to kennel their pets (even for a weekend) or have someone come to their home for overnight stays (which will cost as much for one night as the yearly membership here). Also, sitters seem to forget how expensive it is for just one night hotel stay anywhere in the World. I really don’t understand the anger over the pricing.

As far as response goes, we all have experienced short staffing, and with all that goes on with THS, I can only imagine the phones/emails have been record high. So many cancellations, changes etc., that require assistance from staff.

I hate to hear all these negative comments as we have absolutely loved this site and have had at least 20 different sitters over the time period we have been members. We also have had numerous repeat sitters and have become friends with many of them. This is one of the greatest services I use and am very happy!

Updates are needed for many of the various steps throughout the process, but that is why forums, focus groups, etc., are created so these types of issues can be addressed and utilized. It appears it is working!

Please keep up the good work, always appreciate your hard working staff, and look toward the future for more growth as we hopefully come out of this last two years!

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I have been very disappointed with the customer service, although it was good when I joined in 2018. Best service comes from Angela and Vanessa

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@Rob , as a sitter since 2017 I know that about 90% of the people I have sat for, and a similar number of sits I have applied for are not currently active.
There is a difference between a sitter not paying membership and a homeowner.

A sitter would potentially lose Reviews etc.

A homeowner will know that they will not be able to travel for a period of time after their membership expires, so will wait until they are ready to travel before rejoining THS.

I know that most of my previous HO still have pets, but are not quite ready to travel yet.

Once things settle down a bit more, I am sure you will see a sudden surge in Sits, from previous member Homeowners.
I think this may be in some way the numbers Mathew is alluding to.
I presume they have done some market research asking HO why/when/if they are have not continued/will renew membership.

I have a repeat sit I have done 4 times now, and the HO was trapped in Australia for months. She has already approached me to sit for her early next year, but will not renew her membership until she knows she can travel safely without getting stuck again.

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