Hey everyone, I’m Ben - Product Manager at Trusted Housesitters. I’m here to share some news that we are launching a new and dedicated team to work on Messaging and Applications.
Over the last year, we’ve been speaking to customers and listening to the forum to understand your main pain points and this is an area we have identified that needs an overhaul and focus.
As we are at the very start of a new project it would be great to hear more insights from you all. Please could you respond to this post with your number 1:
Improvement that you would to see
Top frustration that you have
Personally I don’t have any problems with messaging and applications. What I would like to see improved is the search function.
Not being able to apply for all sittings due to pause feature
(Well, you asked!!)
To help you get started, here is an example from other threads/conversations from across the forum:
Idea: As a new sitter I would like to be provided with advice on what makes a good application/what to include.
Improvement: When an invite is sent, this should have the message from the Owner.
Frustration: Sometimes it’s not clear when a message is read or unread.
Frustration: Being excluded from applying for sits by “virtue” of the discrepancy between my current time zone and that of the advertised sit. And by extension, being excluded because of the restriction on the number of applicants.
Idea: 1. Restore the status quo, or 2. Change the 5 application limit to a 48hr limit, or 3. Change the 5 application limit to a number of the owner’s choice (and provide public, clear, open, honest & helpful instructions on how to manage the operation).
Improvement: Isn’t this the same as the light bulb?
Question for THS: What does THS perceive as being wrong with the “messaging” system at the moment? Basically there isn’t any messaging function now unless one has managed to either apply or make an enquiry within the restrictions of the application system. If contact has been established in this way, HO and sitter can message freely and it seems many abandon the platform & use WhatsApp etc. thereafter. Are you proposing only some enhancement to this process such as integrating WhatsApp? (Bad idea with the UK’s Online Safety Bill). If there is no real change proposed why is THS addressing this matter, which doesn’t seem to exercise many members? Forumites often wish for the ability to message members within the main site but clearly THS isn’t going to introduce that as it will destroy the rigid, protectionist policy of the application system.
Frustration: Not being able to check any simple fact with an owner because they have omitted to mention it in their listing. The (non) smoking situation is my big issue in listings. This could be helped by forced check-boxes in listing compilation but doesn’t appear to be within the scope of this canvassing for information.
Idea: Allow owners to control whether or not they allow PMs from platform members (as is widespread in forums generally); separate to the application process. This won’t interfere with the application system for all the “low application” and less highly sought after sits but it will play havoc with your 5 limit policy.
Improvement: Again, same as light bulb?
Idea: Allow sitters to post their travel dates/locations so that homeowners can plan their travel dates with the sitters that they have their eye on!
Improvement: Instead of the strikethrough on the availability calendar to represent booked sits, change it to the THS logo and use the strikethough for actual blocked/unavailable dates!
Frustration: Clicking on “favourites” just takes me to my inbox instead of to a list of house sits that I’ve favourited. I would love to be able to see an actual list so that I can un-favourite the ones that are no longer suitable.
(I have no issues with the applications/messaging but think the application and messaging process will be more streamlined and quicker if the above things are improved)
Idea: If an HO accepts an application, their address should then be revealed to the sitter, before the sitter accepts it.
Improvement: 1. The UK search system is hugely flawed. Some sit ads don’t show up until you zoom right in on the map. 2. ALL of the addresses should show either our UK County or part of our postcodes.
Frustration: When you type in a place name looking for sitters, the sitters within that place name should show up firstly, BEFORE showing sitters in neighbouring towns and cities in the UK.
Allow your members to apply to sits without restrictions on numbers. etc. unless the lister chooses to do do.
All sitters have the opportunity to apply for sits. HO’s are in control of the number of apps they want to see.
Currently only the fastest sitters can apply. HO’s don’t get to see the best sitters, only the fastest.
Show the correct time of messages sent/received based on CURRENT location.
Users outside of GMT see correct times.
I usually move the conversation off THS right away for this reason. Besides, it looks amateurish.
@Ben-ProductManager this is a great thread thank you
IdeaIntroduce a reply rating system for members. A reply rating appears on a member’s home owner’s listing & a sitter’s profile. This rates the member’s responsiveness to first contact messages. To encourage homeowners to respond promptly to applications.
Improvement: Add a key/ legend to the calendar to show what the colours mean . So that HO don’t waste their time inviting sitters who are unavailable because they don’t understand the calendar. And sitters don’t get inundated with invitations for dates that they have shown as not available.
Sitters are not able to contact homeowners unless they make an application ( so cannot ask questions about the sit )
Either I have misunderstood the essence of your OP or the ideas you are getting as responses are multifarious suggestions about general improvements.
Is it just me, or would clarification about exactly what you are asking for be helpful? Perhaps a more accurately worded request is required, or am I being too literal in my interpretation of “Messaging” and “Applications” suggestions?
You have mentioned in your examples on Improvement would be “When an invite is sent, this should have a message from the Owner”
Well I have been championing this since April 22 when I submitted this post:
Now that many sitters are receiving countless invitations are any experiencing the same as me?
Sometimes I receive an invitation without a message. I always ask the HO if they have sent a message and some respond that they have.
What seems to happen is that the HO sends a message and then hits the Invite button at the same time. The invitation arrives in the sitters Inbox but the message disappears.
I have advised the HO to send the message and then once it has gone, send the invitation, or vice versa.
This scenario has been going on for years and it needs a technical fix.
Maybe this is why some HOs are not receiving any responses to their invitations as their messages are not being received by the sitter. I always respond but maybe other sitters don’t.
I have reported this at least twice since but nothing is done
Hi @Saltrams when I refer to Messaging and Applications:
- Making application (Sitter)
- Inviting (Owner)
- Confirmation and sit management (dates, modifying, cancelling) etc…
In particular any actions or activity on these screens.
1.) Idea: change the prompt in the box “Tell them why you are perfect” to something like “There is no hurry. Just keep this window open with the dates clicked. Read the listing carefully, look at the reviews, look at airfares, decide, compose a well-written application. Your application may be number 6 or 7 but it will get in.”
2.) Improvement: Real relevant information that many members do not know about. HOs would get better applications (and a few more than five).
3.) Frustration: Many HOs complain about half-baked applications with sitters that do not meet their stated requirements. Many sitters believe that there is a terrible hurry.
@Ben-ProductManager Please put this clarification at the top of the post, or as a banner, or start a new post. Your original instructions are open to wide interpretation. My responses to these areas:
Making application (sitter)
Allow all listings to be open for up to 24 hrs, with the homeowner having the option to close it earlier.
Confirmation and sit management
Make it far easier to change the date(s) on a confirmed sit, when both parties agree. I’m referring mainly to when start and end dates get firmed up nearer the date, and may need a day or two adjusted at the start or the end. Currently it’s so complex that I think many don’t bother.
Remove the calendar entirely. Instead, when a THS sit is confirmed, add the dates to a section in both the sitter and owner profiles. It’s useful information for both. It also would prompt a conversation if any overlap is identified by either party. I realize it won’t address sits that are not on THS, but I don’t think that can be captured.
Minimal in the areas you’re asking about. I’ll respect the post and not stray into my pet peeves.
Idea: Add response time for sitters and homeowners. e.g. “Replies within… hrs.”
Improvement: Streamlines the process for everyone.
Frustration: Not knowing if the homeowner will take 1 day or 1 month to respond. I have wasted too much time on writing applications and then canceling them if the homeowner doesn’t respond within 2-3 days.
Idea: It would be great if sitters could specify a time in which we are looking to sit, For example, we have family in the Netherlands. It would be nice to be able to announce that we are looking for a one month sit near Rotterdam, for example. Likewise if one were looking for a longer sit, e.g. 2 to 6 months, being able to share that information with prospective pet parents would be helpful.
Perhaps it’s because I am American and may not understand the way the British organize things, but I really don’t see the point of the template that @Ben-ProductManager is suggesting we use to let THS know about our issues and ideas having to do with “Messaging & Applications”. Why can’t I just tell you what my Frustration is and then tell you my Idea for Improving it?
So I’ll start, using my own format:
- I am both a homeowner and a sitter. The messages that come into my inbox are sometimes from homeowners to whom I have applied and some are from sitters who have applied to me. It would be nice if there was a way to have some way that would keep them separate. The way it is now, all my inbox messages are jumbled up from homeowners and sitters and it’s difficult to go back and try to find someone I once had contact with.
- How do you actually delete a message from the Inbox? I don’t see a way to do that. I can archive them, but I’d really like to delete them. If I get an application from a sitter and I know he/she is a hard no, then I would like to just delete it (after politely declining their application). And same on the other side, if I receive an invitation to sit from a place/situation that I would just never go, I’d like to delete that too (again, after politely declining the invitation).
- Why is the place to pause and unpause applications found to the left of the inbox? I’ve seen lots of posts on the forum from homeowners who don’t know where to look for it. And, with the Five and Pause, it seems the place to unpause should have more visibility. Wouldn’t it be more visible if it was on our dashboard?
- And how does the “My Favorites” to the left of the inbox work? I click on it and there’s nothing there, but I also don’t see how to make something in my inbox a “favorite”. I have certainly favorited lots of listings, and some of them are listings of those that I have communicated with in my inbox, but absolutely nothing shows up in “My Favorites” in my inbox. How can I learn to best use the “My Favorites” in my inbox?
- And the Search function to the left of the inbox – what types of things can you actually search for? As far as I can tell, I can only search for someone that I’ve communicated with by their name. But what if I can’t remember their name but I remember they lived in Chicago – it doesn’t look like I can search on Chicago as a way to find them. Or maybe I remember their dog’s name and I know the dog’s name is in the body of the message somewhere, so why can’t I search on the dog’s name? Or what if I know about what month we corresponded, why can’t I search for all messages in my inbox based on a range of dates? Perhaps improving the search function to allow us to search on several parameters rather than just name would be a welcome improvement for me and others.
- Folders, well, let’s just say they seem cumbersome and not useful. Maybe someone can point me somewhere that will help educate me on folders. But, why are we limited to 3? I know we can rename them, but what if we would like to have more than 3?
I could probably go on, but I guess the bottom line is that there is lots of room for improvement in the area of “Messaging & Applications.”
First, the messages on the app from one of my favorite sitters disappeared. At first I thought she must have let her membership lapse. I don’t think you can find “past sitters” on the web page, so I looked on my phone and found here. I also contacted her another way and she said she was still active and could see MY emails. So clearly there is a glitch.
Another glitch I’ve run into is this: Sometimes I start out making a sit “private” and seeing if past sitters want to apply. There is no easy intuitive way to then make the same sit public.
I really wish there was the same or similar functionality on the web and on the app.
I’m not even sure how to turn on notifications. It seems hit and miss. I think I get emails when there is something in my inbox. I’m not even sure. In any case, the messaging system does not seem adequate.
There should be an ability to “trash/delete” messages and if not, then an additional folder for “trash” that can’t actually be trashed but is separate from the Inbox which could be used for current searches and communication.
I HATE the way messages are nested so you either see just the last one or ALL of them – at least on the web. Not sure how it looks on the phone. It’s a problem. If you write a message and then add a line in another message the receiver might not see the original message or understand the context of the additional line.