Why do some HO post so few photos?

I’m an owner who just confirmed my first sit with a THS sitter that’s been full time for 4 years with 5 star reviews. After the sit was confirmed they suggested I post fewer pictures the next time. They were concerned that potential sitters might apply because of the amenities and maybe less so about watching the pets. Interesting perspective! I thought showing lots of pictures would make my listing more attractive and I’d get some great sitters to apply (which I think I did). But they felt the listing pictures should be all about the pets and then later the accommodations. Personally, if I were a sitter, I would want pictures of both the pets and the house I’d be spending my time in, before deciding to apply.

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Hi. I would disagree with this sitter’s suggestion and think that your approach is more suitable. Vanessa (on staff) has suggested in one of her responses on photos as follows:

“It is now required that any new member joining loads at least five images, and as your friend discovered, are also advised to add pictures, not just of the pets, but also of living spaces so that sitters can see where they will be cooking, sleeping etc.”

I would suggest that one or two photos of each pet is sufficient. I do also think that there is no need to post photos of every room or space in the home. For example, if the sitter will be using a guest room for sleeping, there’s no need for photos of the primary bedroom with ensuite, etc. I think it’s reasonable to think that most sitters will be interested in what their living space will be.

Your emails and video chat should give you a feel for the sitter’s priorities. Perhaps ask what they hope to do while they’re at your home. That might give you feedback as to their priorities. Overall, I say, continue on as you’ve been doing. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Hi @Trudzie for lots of applicants a range of photos is probably best, and lots of sitters go on about seeing their bed and bath.
For me, and obviously for your chosen sitter, the pets are the important thing. Really all I care about the property is that it isn’t filthy.
We started sitting in 2012, listings had few photos and I wanted to see the pets, I didn’t particularly want to see the owners, and certainly not a tree in the garden and remember being completely nonplussed the first time I saw a picture just of a toilet. I too thought " they’ll get the wrong people applying, people who want the holiday not the pets"
Now you are allowed more photos there is a place for everything, but personally I hate that I scan the weekly email and the vast majority of first photos are of beautiful houses not of beautiful pets. It does make me uncomfortable that the emphasis is wrong.
Good luck with your first sitter, sounds to me like you’ve got a good one
Jackie

Hi @Trudzie it’s great that you have confirmed your sitters and as the other members in this conversation have said, as well as the very important pet pictures sitters do like to see a variety of images to give them a real sense of where they will be calling home.

I have looked at your listing, it’s very good and really gives potential sitters a wonderful view of “home.” You do show great amenities but they are an added bonus, kitties and a clean comfortable home are the main focus for sitters.

As @Snowbird says you discover which sitters are right based on more than their applications, messages and Skype/Video calls and lots of communication allows owners to choose the sitter who is right for them. Following the process will separate any sitters likely to apply simply for what is on offer, which by the way is very rare as all of our site messaging leaves no sitter member in doubt that pets, their care and the care of homes come first.

You have chosen great sitters, have a wonderful trip knowing your beautiful cats will be kept safe and happy at home.

As a Housesitter, I like to see both photos of the place and the pets especially where I will sleep. I want to make sure the place I’m staying at is comfortably for me during my stay while taking care of their pets.
FYI - Although THS is requiring 5 photos now, the system has no way of knowing what is being uploaded as long as there are 5 uploads. So you will get what the HO wants to show.

Hi @LynKinn

Owners are given guidance on what images to upload. All new listings go through an approval process and if the images are not a good representation of the listing a team member will reach out to the owner and advise.

For listings already on the site which don’t have the right imagery, if they are brought to the attention of Membership Services they will contact the owner member.

One key purpose for making owner listings and sitter profiles the best they can be is to ensure Member Success, as every member survey carried out highlights the need for good imagery, after all “A picture says a thousand words”

As a full time working sitter that only is able to apply to 1 to 3 sits a year… I admit I only apply to sits where the home is attractive and has a nice environment/amenities. …. Especially if the home is in a rural area where I’ll be spending lots of time in the home. The sit is my vacation and if the home is nice in itself, I will want to hang out and love on the pet on property vs explore outside the home and take them off site (if allowed). I would think the HO would get more applications and then determine who would be the best fit for for them. Although I like nicer homes, I always make sure the pets are well cared for and loved on. My vacation style is relaxed, so I usually spend a good time enjoying the property as well as the future babies.

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There are lots of Sits that have the local area attraction in them, or just pets or very vague Photo’s of the Garden, I generally will look at previous HS feedback to get a feel for the home and if the HO does engage, I then ask more questions re about the Home. Sometimes It is a privacy thing. We had a sit that was a working business and once we had engaged in communications with the HO they gave us lots more details. It turned out to be a great sit and we have been back quite a few times.
If a HO didn’t want to share more about the space you will be living in, I would be hesitant, even if it was a WhatsApp video call and they took you around the Home so you can get a feel for it.

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I’ve done 40 housesits (including repeats) through THS and have only had a few bad experiences – all problems with Owners, the pets have been great. In two instances, the problem was the condition of the home. One homeowner actually included photos of a DIFFERENT house than the one that they lived in, it was another house they owned on the property which had been beautifully reonvated but was occupied by long-term renters – while they lived in a completely unrenovated area of an old mill house. It was ramshackle, full of mold, holes in the floor, a crumbling staircase that was unsafe – and the house was filthy, there was petrified scrambled egg left on the hob. I complained to both the owner and THS, and suggested to THS that homeowners be required to put up photos of the rooms/spaces in the house that housesitters will need access to: living area, kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and a photo of exterior space available for the housesitter’s use. I was told that THS was in fact implementing homeowner listing requirements to ensure photos of those areas would be included in the listings. But that was a year ago, and still at least 50% of listings don’t show photos of the interior of the house/apartment. Today I looked at a listing that had photos from the area and photos of cats on pillows – but no photos of the apartment. I this is a serious problem for housesitters – and I’d like to know if other sitters feel the same? And have you registered complaints with THS?

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Hi. This has been a topic of discussion on the forum. You are asked to private message @Angela-CommunityManager with a link and she will have Membership Services follow up on it. The minimal requirement for photos that you’ve mentioned is apparently being monitored for first-time sits. However, homeowners who were already in the system are not being monitored each time by staff. I hope you will notify the staff, for the sake of all sitters.

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We just rejoined THS as HO after nearly two years off (thank you, COVID) and it never occurred to me that sitters would not even consider our sit without interior pictures! We have had many successful sits before, so it clearly wasn’t as big an expectation then but I will definitely be adding some pictures now!

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I have not done that many sits as of yet - 6 with THS (but others before that on my own) and had one where there were barely any photos of the interior as well. It was too far for me to do a “meet and greet” in advance.
I had been told the sitter’s bedroom was “downstairs” with a shower but when I arrived they said instead they would have me in their bedroom which was up a rather precarious spiral iron staircase. Had I had any physical restrictions, I don’t know that I’d have been comfortable going up and down. As it was, it was challenging to get me and my small suitcase up the stairs and I’m quite petite and limber. It made me wonder if someone with bad knees or hips or anyone quite overweight would have even been able to get up. Once there I saw what the “downstairs bedroom” actually was - a windowless basement unfinished room with piles and piles of things on the bed and a scrappy looking shower where the litter was kept. It was quite creepy and I would not have wanted to sleep there. The place was overall not very clean and I chose not to eat any meals there as a result, having all my meals at restaurants. The cats were fine I really did like their company, but there was no way I would stay there again.
I think inside photos and information on the challenges of the stairs should be disclosed in the ad.
Personally, I cannot imagine expecting someone to stay in my home and do me the favor of caring for my animals for free without tons of photos and information on what to expect. I am a very neat and clean person and as such like to live in a neat and clean setting and I leave the place very neat and clean as well (I do this for airbnb’s too, despite paying a cleaning fee!) Everyone’s “mess” tolerance is different and I feel it is only fair to be transparent with the living quarters.
Some people are very tall or large and a twin bed or a sofa bed is not going to work, some are couples who also might need more space, etc, some may plan to bring their own food to cook meals (I have sat in a few homes where there was no room for my food in the fridge or freezer).
While information on the responsibilities in regards to the animals is the priority, the rest is also significant - humans and animals alike should be comfortable.

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As well as very few interior photos being shown, I’m also very wary of listings where the HO uses real estate photos, some several years old. They are not giving a true picture of how the home and its rooms look now. After all, those photos were taken to sell the house to them!

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As a teacher in the UK, and with October half term fast approaching, for the last few days I’ve been looking for sits of a few days’ length for that half term period. There are literally dozens of posted sits which have not included any photos of the house / home. I am somewhat reluctant to apply for these as although the pets look perfect, I am worried the HO might consider me shallow for asking to see a photo of their kitchen, or the bathroom I might use, or of the sitting room. It’s a tough balance to achieve I guess.

Hi @LTD the listings you are referring to may be existing ones where owners have added new dates, as there is now a minimum number of images that is needed in order for a listing to be approved … when you or any member come across listings without images please DM the listing link to either Vanessa, Therese or myself and we will pass to Membership Services who will contact the owner member.

Thank you

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@Angela-CommunityManager Before I DM links for listings to you, can you please clarify the new requirements? Does " a minimum number of images" mean any images are acceptable or does THS now require a minimum number of images of the home’s interior, particularly the living spaces and sitter’s bedroom? Some new listings that I’ve seen seem to fulfill the “minimum number” requirement with LOTS of photos of the pets, the surrounding area, etc. Should we DM old listings with only pet photos to you or do they not need to meet the new requirement?
Thanks!

Hi @Mary-Kay very good question, clarity is essential of course.
There is now a minimum requirement of 5 photographs these should include internal spaces sitters will be using, external and pets of course.

If a listing has no internal images which clearly show these spaces, giving a sitter a view of the home, then we will contact the owner.

Again there are many “old” listings which as you quite rightly say, do not meet the requirements.

One of the main reasons for identifying these listings is the focus on member success, owners get more applications when sitters can get a real and authentic flavor for the homes and pets

This is the blog post advising owners about imagery when creating a listing.

Thank you.

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Thanks for clarifying, Angela!

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Does anyone at THS screen posts before they can be listed? I see lots of posts with no photos of the inside of the house, or photos that are clearly marked with “MLS”, meaning they were taken to list the house for sale. As @temba says, MLS photos would not represent the current decor, furniture, tidiness, etc. Many of these posts show no previous sits, so I assume they are new THS members.

It also amazes me when the HO’s primary photo is something unflattering, or the photos show a really untidy house. Presumably these HOs don’t work in marketing!

@Angela-CommunityManager

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This topic baffles me a bit that there is any uncertainty as to the importance of photos of the inside of the home where a sitter is going to be staying.
I can’t imagine sending my fur baby off to a doggie day-care, a pet hotel or even (heaven forbid) a kennel without any photos or video (if I can’t go in person) of where they’ll be sleeping, resting, playing or eating! My fur baby might truly dislike certain things, afraid or uncomfortable or sensitive in certain settings, I would want to know these things in advance.
Why would I expect any less for a human coming to live in my home?

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