Questions to HOs on Zoom calls

I do a Zoom call with every HO before I decide about/accept a sit. I have a list of questions I ask. It is somewhat detailed because there is a lot to ask about the pets and the home.

But it sometimes seems like too much to ask all these questions on Zoom, when we meet for the first time. I’ve thought about just asking the most important ones, and then sending an email with further questions, either before or after I accept the sit. I’d need to determine what the most important questions are, too. How do you handle this?

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I only ask my deal breaker questions as I consider it’s really more of a conversation to see if we ‘fit’ or not, so I’m observing conversational and social interaction traits/behaviours. I consider detailed information sharing and briefing will happen nearer in time to the sit.

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Totally agree @BonnyinBrighton , that’s how I handle it.

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I deal with it like a casual conversation and use certain things the HO says to trigger a relevant question. In most instances this gets to all the top points I want to drill into. If not I usually just ask at the end of the conversation. Running through a list can be intimidating and not necessarily garner the info you want.

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If there are deal breaking questions- e.g safe parking, bed size (if not shown), where the dog sleeps etc we’re more likely to ask them in a pre-call message. To not waste anyones time.
E g once we had a video call and asked about the bed (no pic shown) and the host pointed to a sofa/sofabed in the living room behind him! This, in a house with three bedrooms! That felt disrespectful to us so we ended the call at that point.
In general we make a few notes pre-call but usually find all important details come up naturally during the call.
If we’re asked to come the night before for handover (e g host leaving early morning) and there is no mention of dinner we always ask about that too. In such circumstances we would expect to be included in meal plans. But it did happen once we arrived at a sit late afternoon, having not clarified that point, and the host said ‘oh I though you sitters always brought your own food’! Well we do- for the rest of the sit- but that was arrival night after a long drive! So it was an awkward start but all turned out well- we popped out shopping and brought additions to what the host had and we had a lovely evening. From that moment all went very well and we would sit there again & have already been invited back.
But in general we always prefer to know exactly whats what in advance! To avoid such awkward moments! :blush:

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What sort of questions do you ask?

To reinforce what others have written, we just go with deal breaker questions during the Zoom chat.

And yes, we always do a video chat prior to accepting a sit.

Here are a few examples of deal breaker questions:

  • where does the dog sleep and where do we sleep
  • how long can dog be left alone while sitters explore the area
  • describe pet behaviors at home and when on leash
  • confirm it’s a non-smoking home and no perfumy diffusers scenting the home
  • any indoor cameras
  • any third parties would be coming to the home
  • send a completed Welcome Guide (with local emergency contacts, address of sit, and cell numbers for each HO) within a few days of confirming the sit.

These questions go to core issues, and after that, we can flex a lot.

Other topics do come up as part of an organic conversation but many things are volunteered by the HOs as we chat. That makes it easier.

P.S. - We are sitters and homeowners.

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Agree with what @Oztravels @Lokstar and @KenandMary1998 have said . We do have a list of questions that are deal breakers - the answers do tend to come up naturally during our video conversation with the owners - but they are a prompt for us if at the end of the chat we haven’t covered something important to us.

One of the deal breaker questions we have is what arrangements are in place if the pets needed any emergency veterinary treatment during our stay ( are they registered with vet / how would pet be transported there )
and how would this be paid for ( on account / would their local emergency contact pay ? )

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Do you usually ask for a contact number of the HO’s as well in case of an emergency?
When sitting with friends and family they usually leave accommodation details where they are staying as well. Is this pretty standard across sitting experiences? I’ve never needed this information, but it is always nice to have when its provided.

Thanks!

@TheCountOnMeSitter We always give our WhatsApp number in our application message and as soon as the host wishes to connect further we switch to direct WhatsApp contact for the video call (if there is one) and all ongoing contact during the sit. So this is also our main contact to the HO while they are away. Many HOs will also leave details of a local contact person. Its important to have at least one person - the HO themselves or their nominated person- for emergancies.

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Awesome. This is super helpful. I’ve submitted an app and have an in person with a HO Sunday since I’m local to the area where the sit is. They suggested a zoom if our schedules didn’t work and I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be the one to provide the zoom link. This would be my 1st sit on THS so, wasn’t sure the format - or if there really was one.
Thanks,
Countess

@TheCountOnMeSitter I would suggest using WhatsApp rather than Zoom. Much simpler and then you have the phone number directly.

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We are sitters and homeowners. We have found that It’s useful to be prepared to have a video chat using a variety of methods: Zoom, WhatsApp, and so on.

This is because homeowners/sitters have different preferences for their video chats. There is no “one size fits all” method.

@KenandMary1998 I recommended WhatsApp over Zoom as you then immediately have their phone number too- for onward contact during the sit!:blush: I’ve read here people missing a zoom meeting and not having a number to call on. I just find WhatsApp easier, personally.
In over 100 sits we’ve always , and only, used WhatsApp with every host! It does seem to be the most popular method.
But ofcourse each to their own! :laughing:

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