Product Update - June 2022

If time is of essence or the job is too complex may I suggest you outsource the job? To (e.g.) Upwork? Airbnb is a customer there, thus with a bit of luck, you may even find and contract the same people who did the job for them which would cut down production time considerably.

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Beautifully said and I agree with every word 1000%.

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Airbnb take 15% commission for every booking from their millions of hosts. Money is no object. We pay a very small yearly membership. THS is no where near the scale of Airbnb.
There are a lot of people holding up Airbnb as the “perfect” model. As a host, I can definitely say they are not. The customer service is non existent and many hosts are using different platforms now because of their bias towards the guests. Be careful what you wish for.

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I agree that THS is not as big as Airbnb and Airbnb are not a perfect model , Is there such a thing? I do disagree about their customer service though. For me, both as a host and also as a guest I have always found their customer service to be excellent.

Where are you getting the data for this quote? -

From the Airbnb forum and other hosts around. Our apartment is in Bournemouth, a family holiday hotspot, and we do chat amongst ourselves. The frustration is never being able to speak to the department who deals with the problem or query. Their policy is the guest always gets what they ask for and ignore the host.

And no there is no perfect model…… apart from Twiggy.

@ElsieDownie

???

  1. Noone is praising Airbnb or comparing the two companies. Members request a review system similar to Airbnb´s, Nothing else.
  2. With regard to “scale”. Apparently there are 60 people working for THS. At this very moment, they are looking for four more. (No programmers though)
  3. According to reviews at Trustpilot, THS´s customer service is also nonexistent
  4. All THS members wish for is a properly functioning review system

Hi everyone :wave:,

As we grow, we want to make the application process more efficient to increase the success rate on both the owner and sitter side, and this is guided by data.

I thought I would follow up by trying to answer all of your questions:

Q&A

What do we mean by redistribution of applications?

Some sits attract very high volumes of applications while others receive very few or no applications. By pausing sits with at least 5 applications, the applications will be made elsewhere and drive owner and sitter success across the platform.

Why 5 applications?

Data tells us that up to 5 applications is the right number to maximise chances of success for both owners and sitters.

Will this impact applying for international sits?

The feedback we have received (suggesting we show a listing for at least 24 hours, regardless of application number) is a really good suggestion and would give international sitters time to apply. We are looking into this further but just wanted to let you know that only a tiny number of listings get to 5 applications within 24 hours.

As an owner, will I be notified if my listing has been paused and how to unpause it?

Owners will receive an email and a push notification (app). They will also see this on the dashboard and will be informed when entering the inbox. They are informed to decline those members who don’t match their requirements and re-open applications.

Will we be notifying owners and sitters of this change?

Yes, this is being announced on the blog which will be shared via our monthly newsletter.

How big a change is this?

This only impacts a small number of listings. From recent tests, owners and sitters didn’t report any issues with this process and we saw a positive impact on redistribution of applications and success.

Why not reviews?

We regularly have to adjust priorities based on member behaviour and what is happening on the platform. We have seen that pausing the most popular sits is a simple way to help owners and sitters be more successful, but rest assured updating the review system is still our long-term goal and on our roadmap.

Many Thanks, Ben

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TH is a great organisation and through it I’ve had the opportunity of enjoying some wonderful sits. However, TH is not a charity and we all pay to use this service so TH is first and foremost a business and I want that business to be as easy to use and open as possible. I am concerned that the arbitrary scheme to pause applications at 5 will be detrimental for both HO’s and sitters alike. It limit peoples freedom of choice and it imposes inflexible controls and regulations. I have been number 28 an application and was selected because I was the perfect fit. Please don’t make it more difficult for HO’s or sitters - everyone is different and this has the potential for some people on both sides to miss out on the best match which would be unfortunate for everyone- and for TH’s reputation as a really supportive and helpful organisation.

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This is simply not true. - it only seems like that because you are only listening to disgruntled hosts. Take a look at some Airbnb guest forums and the belief is totally the opposite

Until recently, I was admin on the largest UK Airbnb host forum, we regularly had surveys and many of these statements, when put to a vote turned out to be myths.
The thing with forums is that people use them to complain so it is impossible to distinguish fact from fiction.
A quick google search of statistics says there are currently approximately 3 million hosts on Airbnb worldwide with 14,000 new hosts joining each month so, love them or hate them, they are doing something right.
One of the key things that sets them apart from the competition is their review system. It is not perfect but it is the best there is . It makes no sense at all that person ‘A’ can read the review left about them by person ‘B’ before person ‘A’ writes their own review about person’B’ . No matter how you look at it, it screams a flawed system.
It always makes me smile when I occasionally see a sitter on THS say " I have all 5 star reviews" as if it is an achievement when we all know the truth is that it is rare to find a THS sitter that does not have all 5 star reviews!

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Well, we will agree to disagree. My personal experience is guests ask and they get.
I do agree about the review system but it is very hard to get something that is totally untrue (proof was sent but ignored) taken down.

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My opinion on this change is that I can see and understand the thinking behind it but I do agree with others that 5 is too low.
If you would consider the small tweak of raising this number to 10 before pausing then I think this new update would have the approval of most sitters and home hosts

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@Ben-ProductManager this is such a weird misapprehension
"By pausing sits with at least 5 applications, the applications will be made elsewhere and drive owner and sitter success across the platform.’
If I apply for a rare sit in Guatemala which gets paused after 5 applications, I’m not just going to apply for a sit in ‘Basingstoke’ instead.
This is the second thing you’ve done to try to force us into sits, the first was seemingly limiting searches to the UK. We know at the moment there are more sits than sitters, for a change, and we know a big imbalance isn’t actually good for anyone, but you can’t ‘make’ us go where we don’t want to!

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To force sitters to apply for other sits, rather than the most desirable. Looks like an attempt to address the ‘more sits than sitters’ issue that THS is experiencing. I dont like it from a sitters POV as it means im stopped from applying if i dont see the sit quickly enough and might miss out…and from homeowners they cant just look at all applicants and pick the best. Previously if homeowners had lots of applicants they removed their listing to stop getting anymore while they decided.

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Maybe 10 sits, or 5 within 24 hours would cover both bases. Pause it at 24 hours if they’ve got 5 or more sits, or pause it at 10 sits.

@JackieX How is this being done?

All - I think we are flogging a dead horse. The decision has been made to pause at 5. Like it or not…

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As a pet sitter and HO I am personally opposed to the 5 app limit, but as a moderator here I just want to remind everyone that this is a trial which will be heavily scrutinized, especially with feedback from our members. Thank you, all!

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Does beg to wonder why the feedback was not sought prior to the trial being imposed.

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@PetSitterBug I have seen both sides expressed. We’ll learn a lot more soon!

In his initial post, he did say they did some trials with a group of home owners already so I assume that would include feedback.

@Ben-ProductManager I wish THS would communicate this to members via an email blast rather than a blog post or the newsletter. I rarely read either one and I suspect I’m not alone. It’s a rather important piece of information to be buried in a blog post or a newletter.

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