As somebody who’s been doing back-to-back sitting for a long time, I feel that being asked to arrive days or several hours early has kind of made itself redundant, unless it’s an international or difficult sit. Always happy to have a meet and greet with the owners, but simply don’t always need chaperoning or for anything self-explanatory or already noted down to be shown. A lot of it could be cut down to a concise hand-over rather than arriving very early, where it sometimes feels like time wasted waiting around to begin the sit. Does anyone else find this, and could THS consider maybe a badge or tick system for sitters to select to say they prefer concise hand-overs?
Or perhaps, as was suggested in the comments, a system for owners to tick if they want their sitter to arrive before the dates they’ve actually listed.
Just a thought.
(Edited the original post, as it was long).
It depends a bit on where the sit is. Maybe that in a country where I could not read the script that a tour of the isles of the supermarket could be useful.
Generally, I like meeting the owners, having dinner, socializing, shop talk, and to be shown the home and the walks.
Of course - everyone is different, and like I said, we always enjoy meeting the owners and having a good chat! It’s just the chaeproning etc that’s unecessarry. Could be good to have an option for the sitter to select if they want it!
We’re very experienced sitters and don’t mind (in fact we like) the whole meet & greet, dinner together the night before, type of sitting experience. That said we take mostly international sits or complex ones so the handover works for all of us. I don’t think some HOs would ever go for a badge of trust or experience, they still want to meet the people they’re trusting their home and pets to in person. I feel your pain in the supermarket lesson and the very early morning walk though
For international sits I really appreciate the meet and greet as long as HOs actually make the most of this. However, I mostly sit locally at the moment and get a bit fed up with in person meets especially when HOs are still in the interview stage and want to meet before they decide or confirm. I have 70+ reviews so safe to say I’m experienced and find the traipsing across town on my non work days or after work sometimes not a great use of time when a video call and some good notes would do.
This we are so with. No meet & greet pre deciding with loads of great reviews. If that’s not enough then no thanks @B1anca
I feel your pain on this, I really do. I can understand the need for a short handover such as an hour or so but some demands are a little excessive to my mind and it can then start to feel quite onerous. I recently did a sit a few weeks ago in Reykjavik (not through THS though). The HOs made me some fantastic short videos showing me where everything was stored and all the necessary things I would need to know. It was such a brilliant way of helping me to get set up and the whole sit all went perfectly and so smoothly from start to finish.
Most of us are pretty adept at following instructions, can hit the ground running and can be left to just crack on with it. I once agreed to arrive a whole day earlier than the sit began at the HO’s request. The HO was a lovely person but one of his absolute passions was talking about dog food, all of the different brands etc and he could’ve talked about this very subject to Mastermind level for hours! It was a very long day for me and quite awkward when you’re in their home and want to be respectful.
At the moment, I’m only doing repeat sits with owners I’m already known to where I’m trusted to just get on with it and don’t have to contend with excessively long handovers. A big part of that is for the reasons you have raised.
No one has given me extensive handoffs. It helps that I’m in my 50s and my profile indicates that I’ve owned homes and traveled a lot.
I try to arrive in the city 24 hours ahead in case of flight delays. HOs have been giving me just enough handoff, usually an hour or two (the latter includes a dog walk during international sits). And I might have a meal with them and just hang out, if I’m staying a night early at their place. But I also have done one-night hotel stays ahead and done sightseeing on my own, with a handoff tour of say an hour or two in the mix.
I’ve done a couple of cat sits where I’ve arrived after the HO has left, and there have been no issues with those. I let HOs know as soon as I arrive, so there’s no wondering. And I proactively text or msg daily updates. No HO has ever had to msg and ask me how their pet(s) is doing.
I’ve been sitting since March and have gotten strong reviews, including mentions about self-sufficiency. I’m now on my eighth sit and have others lined up.
I just accepted a couple more sits and those HOs seem to trust as well. Like I’ve previously sat older dogs with back issues and I have a highly reactive rescue dog, so I know what to do with such pets. (I read listings and briefly write about relevant experience when I apply. I try to anticipate what each HO will care about most, without them having to ask. That helps give them confidence. For one of the sits, we didn’t even do any phone or video chat. The HO reply to my application was that I’d ticked all of their boxes. We then msg’d about logistics.)
I do think it would be helpful if owners could tick a box as to whether their dates include the sitter arriving a day early or not. Just so we are aware before we apply, as we may have been available if we knew a sit didn’t start until the day after.
I know what you mean, it only takes an hour or so to learn the needs of most pets and have a quick tour of a property, plus an extra 30 mins for good measure so that no one feels rushed. Unless of course if a property is much larger or their is a larger quantity of animals, or illnesses etc.
We don’t need to be shown a washer and oven, we can google how their specific model works if we get stuck.
But I think an level of experience badge may go against too many newbies, plus just because someone is new to THS doesn’t mean they aren’t experienced with a lifetime of owning pets, or working within the industry, so they get ruled out before they begin.
We prefer the sitter coming a day before we leave (not necessarily a whole day) to meet the dog. She is friendly, but a bit aloof with strangers. Easier for her to see the new people interacting with us and being “approved” by us. And I do like the opportunity to share a meal and chat. We are having our first sitters at the moment, so don’t have much experience yet
That’s very true, and maybe a better option! We’ve found many times that an owner selects their dates, and then wants the sitter to arrive 1 - 2 days before, which is really unhelpful when you’re trying to coordinate back-to-back sitting. I like this idea a lot!
I think arriving a day early isn’t just about mtg pets or getting a tour, or even just in case of flight delays. If the sitter raised alarm bells on arrival, some HOs might also want the buffer time to cancel the sitter and make alternative arrangements.
Sorry, but the handover also involves my sense of ease and trust that the person understands what’s in my home and the routine of my pets. I have videos showing everything that the sitter can refer to and I can send those out so the actual handover is short. I use keys not a code, and prefer not to leave them with a neighbor for pickup so whenever possible and practical sitters come and pick up the keys – usually in advance at a time that works if they are already in my city. Otherwise, before we leave. Even experienced sitters who have watched the videos usually ask me questions in person when they stop by for the keys and want to go over stuff to make sure they have it. It’s a more human exchange as we are actually meeting face to face. It is also reassuring because I get to see how at ease they are with my pets. I also sit and I’ve done quick handovers where I’ve had information in advance and even no in person contact handovers after extensive videos and remote conversations, but there is still a handover process where both parties communicate and feel comfortable. I would decline any sitter who claimed to be so experienced that they don’t need to bother with an in person handover. It would be a giant red flag.
If you read my suggestion, I never said not to meet an owner. I simply suggested that the chaperoning could be skipped or shortened for some people who really don’t require it.
I think if you were an experienced sitter doing back-to-back sitting who, every 2 weeks was shown how to use a washing machine and taken on a walk, you would be a little fed up too.
I do not think THS would go for the experienced badge because they’ve taken measures to steer HO towards giving new sitters an opportunity by limiting who can apply. I haven’t yet had the excessive chaperoning and not sure how I will handle it. I do decline offers to be taken to the grocery store and prefer to go on my own.
Can you not discuss this in the pre-confirmation chat? You mention that’s it’s awkward and you don’t want to risk losing out on the sit - but if this is a hard line for you, don’t you want to lose a sit that requires this of you?
I get it - I hate being walked through stuff I already know how to do, and I’m sure it gets super tedious. But consider - this might be your millionth sit in a row, but the HO is probably not handing over care of their home and pets nearly as often and this is giving them peace of mind. It does seem like over-communication about how things work is better when you consider the stories about HOs who take off and don’t mention something crucial or even very basic.
I will admit that I find badges twee and an indicator of usage rather than quality and I LOATHE pop-ups. Adding pop-ups to the site would be a real disincentive for me.
I love a meet and greet the day before the sit starts. The only time we would want more time than a single day for handover is if the sit was incredibly complicated and even then, arriving the day before and spending the afternoon/evening together is a joy.
Since we do long sits mostly 1-6 months, I like extra time with the HO so they feel better about the hand off and also to watch for anything that was missed in the sit description.
This said, other than a social visit and going over sit details, I don’t feel the HO needs to do anything more than that. We’re very prepared since we quite literally do this full time while adventuring around the world. That means other than groceries, we come with everything we need.
I wouldn’t do more than an extra day in advance though because unless it’s a weekend, we both have work calls and it can be struggle. It’s like a family rule my side of the family has, anything more than two nights just complicates the relationship.
I don’t think you can actually be considered an experienced sitter after only five sits. Every one has been so different. I also quite like arriving the day before and enjoying a meal together with the owners. It also gives reasurance than you have arrived. It can be very stressfuk if the owner is waiting to leave and you have encountered traffic problems and will not be able to arrive, until after they have left to catch a flight. Arriving a day before also gives the pet or pets a chance to get to know you and the owners to see that they are happy with you. Not nice to just hand a pet over to a stranger and immediately disappear out of the door.
Maybe when applying for sits, it would be good for you to state that you have no wish to arrive early and you believe an hour beforehand is sufficient… That way there can be no misunderstandings and you will not need to endure too much extra time with the owners.
Too many badges.
As a very experienced sitter I always welcome, with open arms, any interaction, tutorials or showing around the pet owner has time to do. Not only is it useful information but it also gives me an idea of the lifestyle and timetable the pets are used to. I cannot count the number of friends I have made by this interaction. Social contact with the pet owners is worth its wait in gold no matter how experienced or wonderful you are.
@Nagy26 ‘experienced sitter’ is such a subjective term. I fail to see how any parameters could be established that could truly identify someone as such. Many of the reasons have already been mentioned. One example is someone who has done most of their sits on another site: experienced, but just not on TrustedHousesitters.
If I was an owner, I would find the wording you’ve suggested somewhat offensive. If I was making every effort to make things comfortable for sitters, to be seen as ‘chaperoning’ would not sit well with me. Just my take on that, I guess.
What puzzles me the most is this statement:
A highly experienced sitter would be able to respectfully explain and suggest something other than what the owner had listed, or communicate in a way that both sitter and owner could feel satisfied and understood. Failing which, an experienced sitter would confidently know that there are many other owners who would be happy to have them for a sit. Loosing out on a sit is rarely a major concern for experienced sitters.