Sitter/Owner Ratios - Helping to Redress the Balance

I think the UK is making things easier. I know several people there hosting refugees at this point. Even if it give everyone involved a break and some private space for the length of the sit, it would be helpful as hosting someone in your home and being hosted are both really stressful and difficult over the long haul.

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A valiant idea, but there is always that “minor detail” of background checks to consider.

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I thought they just did ID checks in Europe.

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That’s correct, at least we didn’t have the option to upload a background check.

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@Angela-HeadOfCommunity @Vanessa-ForumCMgr @Therese-Moderator I just did a ‘find a sitter’ search and noticed what seems to be a high number of sitters that have private references but no reviews yet. Is there any system in place to be in contact with these people.
Surely these must be the easiest route to helping redress the balance? They have paid their memberships but are still waiting in the wings , still not actually started sitting yet.
What are the reasons for this? Nervous to start? Not understanding the process?lost the momentum to get going?
A gentle nudge might be all that is needed to add a few to the active sitter numbers…

Obviously some may have done a sit or two but failed to get the review, in which case extra help getting that all important first review may also be appreciated and, once they have this more home hosts will feel comfortable inviting them to sit in the future.

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Hi @Colin thank you for your excellent observation and for opening the discussion.

We do have a high percentage of new members achieving success as it is a top priority, something we are all focussed and we have a team specifically working to help both new sitters and owners achieve success after all we want everyone to get full benefit from their membership but more importantly enjoyment of our lifestyle and community so they remain part of our community for years to come.

Advising on profile creation, encouraging and motivating new sitters to apply and keep applying for sits, helping and guiding in that application process also motivating owners to consider new sitter members, after all we all started from the same place … new, without any THS reviews, are just some of the journey the team focus on.

The forum really helps too and the success stories we’ve had prove that when experienced members like you give help and advice it can make all the difference … mentoring at community level.

It also helps for us to remember how it was in the beginning when we were starting out. I don’t know about you Colin but it took me almost two months and numerous applications before I was successful, although there were far less opportunities then, also much less support.

If you or anyone have other suggestions or ideas on how we can help new members achieve their pet and housesitting lifestyle goals, which will ultimately help "redress the balance"then we’d love to hear them.

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Hi @Colin, I am a newbie, I have loads of references but no reviews. This is because I am not looking for sits until the end of January when I am taking 6 weeks off work. My calendar has been filled out to reflect this. It could well be that there are many other sitters like myself who are “holiday sitters” rather than full-time sitters (and in that I mean those available most of the time). Because I run my business out of home I can’t even do an overnight sit!

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I am a HO currently badgering these people Colin! I am getting a bit panicky about our family holiday in June and I’d equally love to give someone a chance to get started, as I remember being really anxious as a new HO with no reviews and delighted when someone decided to take a chance on us. Our animals are easy to look after so would be a good starting point too. I am currently actively reaching out to people with no reviews but as many of them don’t have their calendars filled in at all it’s impossible to know if they’re available, if they haven’t started yet, if they have very specific dates in mind, if they are busy through another site… Part of me is really pleased that the balance has swung a bit in favour of sitters, while the rest of me is really anxious about our holiday!

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Maybe the sitter should simply say “available (insert dates) in (insert location) and update on the regular.
I have had zero requests since I have indicated that I am not available till after April 2023.
Not a long term solution but might help some avoid a bit of grief and time in their search.
Of course not everyone reads the forum or anything for that matter but it might help those that choose to try it.

Also, I think there’s a difference between ID check (proof of ID- driver’s licence or passport) and background check (criminal record check). We, as Canadians, were able to do the criminal record check when we first joined so we are grandfathered in but it’s now only an option for the US.

Having been both a host and sitter, I think the success of this site depends on sitters loving pets, and hosts showing appreciation sitters.

In my experience, it seems that only about half of sitters actually enjoy spending time with pets, and the other half are solely sitting to save money.

On the flip side, there are certainly some hosts who don’t appreciate sitters enough.

Generally, it’s a lot harder for a host to find a good sitter, than it is for a sitter to find a place to stay (Airbnb, etc), so I think that any sitter looking for a truly even exchange will be frustrated unless he or she really takes pleasure in caring for pets and helping a host.

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“In my experience, it seems that only about half of sitters actually enjoy spending time with pets, and the other half are solely sitting to save money”.

How did you arrive at this conclusion? As a full-time sitter, with many sitter friends, and being involved in several house sitting groups I would disagree with your estimation.

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It sounds pretty accurate to me. Everyone’s opinion will be anecdotal, of course, but it’s hard to deny that many people are simply doing this for free accommodation. Especially since the onset and now continuation of more people working from home.

Wow - lack of sitters really is serious! I have used TH 7-8 times before, and every other time, within the first ten minutes of posting dates I got 6+ responses. (I have easy pets in an exceptionally desirable location right in the heart of Washington DC. ) I posted new dates in June yesterday and no responses at all.

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My 2 cents on how to get more sitters to apply for your sit…

  • Leave out dates/duration of sit in your headline (that info is already underneath your listing pic). The headline also isn’t the place to tell us your cats are ginger, adorable, playful, etc. Don’t even need their names. Type of pet, number of pets, and your actual location will do. Everything else can be addressed in the listing itself.

  • Cut down on scenery pics, and focus on the home, especially the space the sitter will be using, plus the kitchen and bathroom. We don’t need to see 5 different angles of the living room and dining room, a vase of flowers on a table, the art on the walls, etc.

  • Nor do we need to see 12 pics of the pet, just a few, and the necessary details. If your pet is a cat, is it indoor or outdoor? Any behavioral issues or special needs?

  • Also, in the “Home and location” section, tell us about your home as it applies to us. Does the sitter get their own room and/or bathroom? If not, is there an alternative for a sitter who would rather not sleep in the owner’s bed? Is there a dishwasher, a microwave, a washer and dryer? If the weather is warm, is there air conditioning, or at least fans? Is there a TV, wifi? Are there potentially problematic neighbors (like a noisy family living upstairs, lovers of loud music next door, or a barking dog)? Is there a dog run/park or playground nearby that might disrupt sleep or work?

  • Tell us where your home is. Where it really is. If you’re south of London, don’t list your sit as in “South London.” Newark, New Jersey is not New York City. Maryland is not Washington, DC. Substituting what you think is a more attention-getting location for where you actually are helps no one. What is the public transport like? Which train/subway/metro stations and buses are closest? Is there a grocery store nearby? A long tourist guide is not necessary, just the basics.

  • Above all, be honest! For every person put off by a flat overlooking a noisy playground, there’s another person who loves the sounds of children playing and would see it as a plus. So tell us what you think might be a concern, and let us decide if it’s a plus or minus.

Sitters are scrolling by or discounting your sit for a reason. Obviously I can’t address them all or speak for every sitter; I can only say what kinds of things I look for and care about, and what puts me off applying. I think if you change even a few of these things, you will get more interest and applications.

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Free accommodation is definitely a big draw, but there’s also the companionship aspect, which is important for those of us who have lost beloved pets and aren’t ready for another yet, or who live in situations where we can’t have pets but love spending time with them. I have an upcoming sit in the UK where I am sitting for half of my trip, but paying for accommodation for the other half to balance out having time with responsibilities and time without.

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Exactly. And people like us who would LOVE to have a pet but we travel too much and don’t want to make that commitment right now. We absolutely love spending time with pets when we are away. It makes our trip.

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I love being with the pets as well. Right now I’m doing a weekend sit even though I’m booked in an Airbnb for six weeks! I’m paying for nights of accommodation that I’m not using but am getting my cat fix so I’m happy.

The person I replied to said that in the housesitting groups they are members of many of the people do it for the pets. And I believe them.

I’m a member of a few digital nomading groups and have the completely opposite experience: most are doing it to save money on accommodation. They’re smart enough to create profiles that don’t admit this, of course, and they’re generally not being neglectful of the animals, but that is the main reason they are doing it.

Your bubble matters.

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I tend to agree with your assessment, because I’ve seen it in those groups/Reddit subs too. I just hope that homeowners realize that there are so many of us out here who aren’t just looking for a free stay… if we were, we’d take pretty much anything without caring whether or or not we’d be a good fit for the pets or the homeowner’s needs. We often don’t or can’t have pets anymore, but we miss the pet experience at times.

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My husband and I are sitters who are looking for a place to stay AND we love being with pets. We take our sitting responsibilities very seriously. We are building a house and decided to go this route for two reasons. It provides us a place to stay instead of trying to find temporary housing which is quite expensive and we get to be with animals. I adore animals and once we settle into our new home, I plan on adopting a dog or two.

Maybe we are outliers in this regard. In the future, we may use this to travel as both a host and a sitter to get to see different parts of the world. Again, we would care for the animals as if they are our own.

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