Sitter/Owner Ratios - Helping to Redress the Balance

I think it’s great if the site can do something to help more owners get their listing filled. But this thread speaks to something very important that needs to be considered by people. Ultimately, THS is limited in what it can do in assuring sits get filled and sitters get assignments. They are limited in totally preventing many of the problems people talk about here.

I commend the site for trying to step up its game, and make it more than just a middleman that offers listings, and in many ways, it has succeeded in that. But at the end of the day, that is what it essentially will be. And if that is what it essentially is, people need to adjust their expectations.

If there are any big problems with a particular owner or sitter, they can remove them from the site and that’s a good thing. But often these issues aren’t brought to light until after the assignment has taken place. There is risk involved for both parties, like most things in life. People have to take responsibility for their choices.

I think more often than not, it works out fine for both ends, and when it doesn’t, there are definitely lessons to be learned moving forward, if they want to continue to use the site on either end.

They can make suggestions about representing your house truthfully, or cleaning it for sitters, but it’s not like they can send someone in person to verify the photos or what it looks like.

They can’t prevent sitters from misrepresenting their intentions, and making it sound like they are all about the animals when they are primarily interested in travel, short of having them take a lie detector test prior to creating their listing.

And not for nothing, most people are primarily interested in using this service to travel and for those that really like animals, it’s a great way to do that. I know that’s the case for me. I adore animals and love the opportunity to have them in my life, but I’m not housesitting because I’m fulfilling some life long dream to take care of people’s pets for free while they travel for work or pleasure. Remember this is designed as a mutually beneficial exchange.

I’ve been using this site for many years, and it has brought me to some of the most interesting places I’ve ever been and I couldn’t be happier that it, and others like it, exist! Just keep those listings coming and that’s all I expect from them.

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Thanks for this organized and helpful list, @Vanessa-ForumCMgr and @Angela-HeadOfCommunity!

As a sitter I’ve lately been getting daily invites to sits, most of which I can’t do because I’m already booked through October.

I always reply, but I’ve been feeling bad for people who are having a harder time than usual getting sitters!
Being able to share the link to this post will help, I think. :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

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As a newish sitter (I joined in January and have done five sits, with five more coming up), I’d like to offer my suggestions for owners.

  1. Reply to an application within a day or two. I consider myself to be an excellent sitter (I’m very clean and spend the majority of my time with the pet), but I have withdrawn my application several times when I feel the owner has taken too long to respond or acknowledge it.

  2. Post clear pictures of all living areas, plus the exterior. We want to see the kitchen, our bedroom, bathroom and living area.

  3. We honestly only need 2-3 pics of the pet, and awake is best. I like to see how large a dog is, so standing pics are good.

  4. Be careful with your wording. Recently I have seen “the upstairs is off-limits to sitters” or “duties will include…” Yeah, no thanks. We are equals. Bye.

  5. When I see that a HO has been sitting on 4-7 applicants for several days without making a decision, to me it comes off as greedy and selfish. Probably several sitters have already moved on and are no longer available.

  6. We like to see a clear picture of the owner(s), too.

Having said all of that, I have loved every single one of my sits and am excited about each one that it to come.

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That’s the crux of this, really.

Mutually beneficial! The fee paid for membership doesn’t entitle them to a live-in housekeeper, gardener, chef, chauffeur, majordomo… and oh by the way, petsitter.

And I’ve done ALL of those things on sits …besides chef. :wink:

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If you are advertising a sit for dogs, I would suggest putting something in the title that tells us sitters if it’s two big Alsatians or two small Dachshunds that need looking after. Some people want to walk miles and some don’t, there is such a variety of dogs and needs that an early indication may encourage people to read rather than just scroll past

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One of my tips for improved listings is to avoid subjective statements that can lead to misunderstandings. Here are some examples of ones I often see:

  • one long walk and two short walks - define by distance or time
  • pet doesn’t like to be left alone - be specific with maximum hours
  • walkable distance from … - differs greatly for everyone, especially if you’re carrying groceries too
  • near downtown - when I have no idea what’s downtown - for example, in my city, there’s no grocery store downtown
  • use of acronyms or local terminology - CBD, PNW, ‘the Bay area’ (and there are many more) - a reminder that THS is worldwide :wink:

Another tip is to learn what details are better left for the Welcome Guide. Lengthy descriptions including where the pet food is stored (and there are many like that) are incidental. Keep details in your listing focussed on what a sitter needs to know to assess the suitability of the sit for everyone.

And this one can’t be repeated often enough - appropriate photos are essential - sitters want to love your pets, but also feel comfortable in your home. THS provides guidelines on appropriate photos for this reason, and this helpful blog post:

How to choose the perfect pictures for your owner listing

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I agree that pictures are essential, but please take pictures of the areas the sitters will use, AS THEY WILL LOOK WHEN THEY ARRIVE!

It wouldn’t be fair if people clean up for pictures but don’t before the sit begins!

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I think this is a side effect of covid that we’re going to continue to see. So many people acquired pets during covid and they’ve never been left alone because people were working remote. Or existing pets got used to their owners being home 24/7. I think it’s going to take a while for this to normalize.

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Please keep reinforcing this with HO as many sitters don’t consider listings that don’t have these photos thereby making it harder for HO to find sitters.

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Yes, that’s true. Also the fact that so many people lately are saying their pets cannot be left alone or for no more than 2-3 hours. There are so many great sits that I cannot apply to because of these stringent requirements. This is especially true if I do not have access to a car as I would not if I have to fly to a sit. I am repeating what others have said but if the homeowner is able to offer occasional day care or dog walking services or allow the dog to be alone occasionally for longer periods of time so that the sitter can go out for a meal, run a couple of errands or see the area, they would attract many more applicants.

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It would also be a good idea for HO to revisit their listings with regards to headings. Some state Xmas sitter needed or Half Term Cover required and the actual listing isn’t for that time of year at all.

Also I am sure it has been said before - ensure the key photo is a good one and relevant to the sit and not some local beauty spot. Photos should be quality and relevance over quantity.

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Revisiting Headings is a great tip.@twitcher… Frequently the description refers to an earlier sit or includes dates, which haven’t been updated resulting in confusing messaging. It’s good to keep headings evergreen and relevant for all sits, unless of course you are super organized and remember to update each time.

Lots of good ideas coming through … thanks everyone and keep them coming.

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Is there a way, before owners post a new listing, to make them look at their title? and even their first paragraph? Just ‘check this’ before they can make the post. A large percentage of sits I look at have out-of-date and contradictory-confusing listings, and I wonder, don’t owners see this stuff?

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@Lauraa
As a HO you create one listing with title and all pictures and descriptions.
When you add new dates you only need to post these without having to look at the listing again, because it is saved.
I always check if everything is still up to date but obviously, not all HOs do this.

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I always send a message to point out any title anomalies to home hosts if I spot them

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and can you do that now without applying, ie ticking the dates? I remember being prevented from doing that when I had no history with the owners.

you would be amazed at the bizarre mismatches between titles and dates and descriptions of houses they no longer live in.

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I don’t know about others but we as sitters don’t apply to sits where 2 or more previous sitters didn’t leave a review. If both the sitter and the owner didn’t leave each other a review we view that as a red flag.
So my advice to owners is please review your previous sitters and ask them to review you. This will only help you down the road.

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@Lauraa - I click the dates then explain that I am not applying but just want to point out to them the error on their listing. Almost every time I get a reply thanking me for pointing it out to them

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I agree wholeheartedly with lauraa’s suggestion that the listing is presented to the HO before it can go live, and they must check the pets involved, the title etc. I frequently see sits advertised for, say, one dog and two cats using the little pet icons, but on reading the sit, it’s apparent that the dog is going with the owner (or is no longer with us, etc). As I prefer sitting cats, I would pass over a sit like this whereas in reality I would be happy to look after just two cats. Having owners verify the content of their ad is most definitely the best thing THS could do here.

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