We’ve booked almost all our house sits without an in-person interview, usually just video or phone call. Only when the sit is confirmed and there will be a keys exchange we’ve sometimes met the owners.
Now more and more owners (specifically new ones) have been requesting to meet in person, but it takes time and money to do so.
Some don’t even book afterwards and ask a friend, neighbor or family members to sit for them.
I think there should be some guidance for first time owners on the platform.
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Every sit and home owner is different, so you’ll have to use your initiative. I think it unreasonable for THS to provide guidance for every single eventuality, but I’m sure you’ll get plenty of answers to guide you here or elsewhere in the Forum. I’m surprised that owners are asking to meet ‘in person’ but think it is very important to have a video chat for both sides. I agree it’s expensive if you live a distance away from the owners to meet in person beforehand. While I did meet a few owners in person when I started out housesitting, that was my choice.
You have to choose sits that are a good fit for you - If meeting in person before confirming does not suit your situation and it is a criteria that the home host insists on then politely tell them so and move on to your next option.
Many new home hosts have been used to paying for sitters in the past who are usually local and do not realise how far many TH sitters travel to their sits
We have only managed to do one face-to-face meeting as we were already in that area. We did not find it any more or less advantageous than our usual video call method.
We have on occasion paid a pre visit to an owner if its been convenient for us to get there. But that’s extremely rare. Most meetings are done over video. The only time we drove a long distance for a visit (before confirming) was in Australia. We did a 200km round trip to visit some potential hosts and spent over an hour with them. They’d had lots of applicants but not chosen anyone so when they enthusiastically invited us for a visit we though it was a done deal and that the meet was a kind of formality. We seemed to get on great and at the end we suggested we confirm the Sit officially. They said Oh no we’re not ready to decide yet- we have another couple coming this afternoon- We’ll let you know! We were taken aback, felt like we’d just been in a job interview! They had not been at all upfront so we felt annoyed and let down after all the effort to meet them. The atmosphere changed instantly. We left in a ‘friendly’ way but -as soon as we got in our car-we decided to withdraw our application immediately.
We won’t be doing that again- lesson learned! Fortunately we combined that trip with a pre sit visit to another (comfirmed) Sit nearby who we would not be meeting on the handover day- so it was not a completely wasted trip!
We often meet in person but I think it’s perfectly acceptable to tell a HO that the time and money investment would be too high. The requirement to meet in person should already be mentioned prominently in the listing. For paid sits meeting in person is common practice, but this is THS, not Pawshake.
We also often book sits from overseas when a pre meet up is obviously not possible. We booked our first sit in Australia whilst in Bali. We were both first timers and only had a phonecall & a few messages. This was pre-Covid when we were not yet doing video calls. Nowadays every host we apply for wants a video call- my husband hates them! But they do have their uses. We’ve actually withdrawn from a couple of potential sits when something during the call did not feel right for us. And in other cases -when we will not meet the hosts in person- it is a nice way to get to know each other a bit, maybe see the pets too, and make it all feel more real!
I would only ever do a pre sit interview if i was local or in that area, say within around an hours drive. We have done so twice when we were newer sitters & hadnt got many reviews.
I think for many sitters it wouldnt be convenient.
Although i can understand a HOs concern in wanting to meet the sitter in person, if its necesary to them then they maybe need to look for a more local sitter.
@Lokstar , quite cheeky i think you did right to decline!
I’ve offered to meet HOs if there was an issue or concern they had, and only if I was planning to be in or pass through the area already. I would also be amenable to meeting someone locally, or perhaps, at worst case, driving an hour or so to meet up at a park or something.
Once was for new-ish puppy whose owners were anxious about leaving her for the first time. Another time we stopped in Santa Fe on our way to Texas. The dog was large and the owner was concerned about him being reactive with my (tall, bearded, male) partner. The in-person was more like a drop-in to see how the dog responded as opposed to an interview for us.
I certainly wouldn’t offer to travel specifically to an interview unless there were exceptional circumstances.
In your case, I’d decline. Perhaps saying something like, “Travel to and from your home prior to the agreed sit is not possible for me/us. I suggest you look into a local sitter or service if that is a priority for you.” You don’t have to explain any further than that.
I have only ever (so far) completed sits where I have first met the people in person. However, that is circumstantial, as my preference is for sits within about 2 hours of where I live, and I have been the one to suggest/ arrange this. That’s just my experience and I am asking you to essentially ignore it and do what is best for you. In fact, that is essential and I am realising that more and more. Someone may ask something of you but you are entirely within your rights to decline. If it isn’t something you are comfortable with, don’t do it.
Case in point, the story that @Lokstar shared, regarding travelling a significant distance to meet home owners who were entertaining other possibilities. The sitters went out their way, spent good money on travelling and made a good impression, but the sit still wasn’t guaranteed. Similarly, I have met with home owners where it was evident they were asking a great deal more than appeared on their profiles, unfortunately only apparent when I’d made the effort to meet with them at my expense.
The take away is that you have to do what you feel comfortable with. Rest assured, the home owner will do what they feel comfortable with. If those preferences don’t match, it’s okay to decline and may save you from being in a situation you’d rather not be!
@strawberryen Very well said!
Thank you everyone for your kind words and suggestions.
I’ve added to my profile the disclaimer that we’re only accommodating in-person interviews when a sit has been confirmed or for key handover.
Hopefully this doesn’t turn away hosts. Fingers crossed!
Have a great day
@MarceCoral I never like using the word ‘interview’ for a meeting with the hosts. Sounds too much like a job interview & therefore unequal. I see it more as a meeting of equals to see if we’re a good match.
And I agree with @SandC your comment on your profile about in-person interviews is not relevant after you’ve already confirmed a Sit.
Visiting the host pre-Sit is different- the pressure is off- the sit is already confirmed. Sometimes we have visited a host pre-Sit to collect keys or to meet them in person if we will not meet on handover day. But we only do this when its convenient for us and we’re not too far away. Otherwise we might have an extra call before the Sit and make arrangements with the key. Sometimes we don’t get to meet the hosts at all. We had one Sit recently in the UK where we knew our respective timings ruled out a personal handover. However the trip between 2 other Sits happened to pass very close to these hosts so we offered to pop in for a visit en route, a week before the Sit. They were very pleased we made the effort! Each Sit arrangement is unique and its good to be as flexible as possible!
Companies frequently pay mileage for interviewees. Homeowners should do the same, if they want an in-person interview. That’s just nuts in my opinion.
I will only agree to a face to face if they are relatively close. Say an hour away. In my experience very few expect a face to face. This is usually only asked if you are close by. I personally would say to that it’s not a good fit if they are expecting this. I would politely suggest to them that they seek a sitter close by.
The majority of our housesits are in other countries so if they want to meet in person then it’s their loss and they can look for someone else. There are more people looking.
If we are in the area (driving through) we offer them the opportunity to meet us and for their dog/cat check us out or if it is near our residence.
I agree. Your profile is not the place to set those strong rules. You could definitely mention it in your initial application though “we prefer to meet in person prior to accepting a sit,” at least when it’s appropriate for that sit.
I feel like this has been a point of contention for me, I have travelled to an “interview” to only get declined by a HO. I did give her feedback that next time a video call should suffice, and that I’d invested time and money travelling to her house, which has made things uneven. I am seeing this more and more unfortunately, and I don’t want to miss out on sits if this becomes the norm.
Wow, I would never consider asking a potential sitter for a meet and greet unless they were already located nearby. It would be unreasonable to ask a sitter to fly or drive a long distance for a sit that wasn’t even a done deal. We usually just ask that a confirmed sitter arrive the day before we leave if time permits, so we can introduce them to our pets, show them a little about our routine and we usually like to treat them to dinner to show our appreciation. We have met a couple of sitters before booking, but they were already in the same city as us. Declining via messaging is hard enough for me, I would feel like a real heel to do it in person