Your help needed to improve the Welcome Guide

Hi all,

My name is Arjuna and I work as a product designer for TrustedHousesitters.

We are currently looking at ways to improve the sharing of the welcome guide and I wondered if I could get your opinions on the following:

  • which sections of the welcome guide you find most useful
  • which sections are not filled out comprehensively by owners
  • when you like the welcome guide to be shared with you (how far prior to the sit starting)

Any feedback would be extremely helpful :slight_smile:

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I couldn’t agree more as this has happened to me. That is why I insist on receiving it as soon as a sit is confirmed, giving me time to unconfirm if it is materially different

Hi Arjuna, i’m very surprised when an owner does not want to fill up the WiFi code, his full adress.
I’m sitting next month in Switzerland, the couple of HO did not give me these infos. Although they filled up the homebook after my request on phone and through THS Web site (it’s their 1st expérience)
I called them, explaining i would like to see the environnent on Google earth (a street can be long and very différent at numéros 1 or 336 )they answered it was for security reasons
As the home book is not public but visible only once a sit is confirmed, i found their answer strange, an obvious lack of trust.
They told me i needed to walk early their 5 months old puppy, around 5.30- 6a.m (to avoid pee or poo in their appartment) but there was a garden nearby. So far I could not check how close it is…
Once i will be gone, i will know their WiFi code and precise adress, so what’s the problem ?

“Have you a plan b?” could be a chapter
interesting to be filled

If for any reason the owner can’t come back the day he is supposed to (he missed his plane, he was involved in an accident, injuried, fell ill etc.)or if the sitter faces any emergency, needs to go back home before the decided date, what solution ?
Could the pets be given to somebody else ? Could a friend, a relative, be in charge ?
The owner, writing he is OK that the sitter keeps the dog (or the cat, etc.) In his home if there is no other solution, and if the sitter can do it, not living far, would be nice.
A vet, a refuge he knows could be a solution?

I asked my future owners if they miss their plane, can’t go back from abroad, if i was allowed to take their puppy to my home?
I don’t want to be accused to steal their pup ! I am ready ti help but i want them to pick up their pup. I don’t want to be obliged to drive her back…

the owners who have no relatives no friends, no help near them may ignore to whom they can give spare keys. That chapter remains blank .

Could THS suggest to buy and hide a keysafe somewhere ? It could be helpful

Precisions such as floor, lift (for flats), type of parking (public, private, free, exact price per day)
could be another information to be given by the HO

Distances between the vet clinic and the home, distances from the home and public transportation (sitters may not have cars)

Add a map?

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For me as HO of an old house, which has some “grown” features, I would love the possibility to upload pictures in the section “house” right next to the text. Some things are better explained if the picture can be seen right away. Actually, like writing a post here at the forum.

Another issue I have is with the section for vet and hospital, as well as for spare keys. For our house there are two neighbors who have keys and also my mother, who lives further away, but only one field to put in a phone number. The same applies to vet and clinic. We have a house vet and additionally a clinic for emergencies, but only one field for a phone number, where at least two are needed. I think one section for vet and another section for hospital/clinic would be great, both with separate phone number to fill in.

As it is now, I ended up not putting any phone number in there, because it is confusing.

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Hi @ArjunaTHS
You may find a different thread which I started in April of interest titled "Do you prefer the Welcome Guide or Word doc "
That should answer some of your questions

As to the timing of receipt of the WG, I always thought that THS policy was to advise it to be sent/received as soon as the sitting is confirmed . If a HO has had sitters before, then it is already prepared so why delay?
It can always be updated nearer the time.
It is not necessary to include photos of the pets which are already on the HO profile.
Photos of the remote controls with instructions are always helpful
Lastly, there should be no surprises in the guide as illustrated by @Kootenaigirl

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@ArjunaTHS this is the thread @Itchyfeet is referring to:

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Hi @ArjunaTHS, great to hear from you.
The sections that I find most useful are (i) the home details section, (ii) pet information and (iii) emergency contacts. However, they can also be the sections that are not comprehensively completed by the owner, especially pet information (feeding routine, walking capability, medication instructions, behaviour towards other dogs/animals/people) and emergency contact details. It would be really valuable to have space for more than one emergency contact listed. Some owners put their partner as the emergency contact yet they are with them - they haven’t understood it is to be a person who lives close by who could help the sitter if needed.
Because I enjoy sitting in England (I’m in Australia) I usually find I have to ask for more information on the house, especially if it is old as they can have quirks that we do not have in our homes eg strange places for water meters and fuse boxes; boilers etc. So long as it is explained in the WG where to find the Wifi code, I understand them not including the actual password in it.
I like to receive the WG very soon after the sit has been confirmed so that if there are any concerns I can raise them with the owner and hopefully get them sorted. I like to be well prepared for a sit and part of that is receiving the WG in plenty of time.
Is it possible to make the WG compulsory to be completed by owners as part of the process in booking a sitter? This way owners can understand how important it is to share detailed written information with their sitter prior to it starting. After all, the more information shared the smoother the sit should go for both parties.
Thank you, Arjuna, for asking for feedback.

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Hi,

I’ll be honest, I found it very difficult to find the link to confirm a sit and send the guide. I am usually quite tech savvy, so I found this rather frustrating. Eventually, with some help from THS, I was able to do it, but it wasn’t easy.

Aside from that, I find the sections regarding shopping and eating out to be something that might be better suited for a homeowner to provide on premise. My home is in a resort area, and it’s difficult to know what would best suit each upcoming sitter’s likes. Easier to have a printed guide at home that would offer a variety of options, hopefully to offer a little something for everyone. Also, while I am new to THS, my first sitters had no interest in eating out at all and preferred to dine in. Therefore my efforts at providing restaurant information was essentially wasted.

I am a newbie, but hope this bit of feedback helps.

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Welcome to the forum @ArjunaTHS
The Welcome Guide does indeed have some essential information and benefits but again this is one of those things that is going to meet the needs of the sitter and HO based on their own personal comfort level and experience.
The must haves are of course:
My Home

  • Contact Information including location, phone, email

My pets
VERY IMPORTANT anything and everything you can think of.
Including veterinary details, meds, special diets, needs, play time…

  • Local transportation available and necessary for arrival. HO sometimes know uncommon ways to get to their home that are not readily available online. Some HOs are willing and able to pick up the sitter and this should be agreed upon beforehand.

Home Details
Everything that is currently under this category is helpful and very much appreciated especially when the home is large, the sit is long and the HO is particular about the way they wish their home maintained.

security
mail
Same as above
photos
Not necessary unless there is something in particular that needs to be highlighted.
Tourist information is nice but not required. Things to do, places to go, eat etc an individual can research easily and you can always just ask when you arrive, “what’s good around here?”
Now in my experience, I have had sits who have not provided a WG at all and others who write a full detailed WG in addition to printing it out and putting it on a binder for me. I have also had HOs send me a short video guide of their place, like a walk through to show me where things are, like spare keys, and little nice to know touches which I found delightful.
With experience a sitter will get to know what they need to know and be prepared to ask the right questions prior to the departure of the HO and not feel too anxious. I always ask for one before the sit and if I don’t get one, I just send a friendly message, “Hey, I need the address, your phone number…”, where am I going type of thing in a friendly way and usually that works.
On the flip side, The HO should make the effort to dedicate some time to filling out the WG because once it is done it done except for some tweaking if anything changes. This is your home and your pets that you are entrusting to the care of someone else. They are worth it.
The WG is a communication tool and filling it out (and reading it for the sitters) says it all and avoids misunderstanding and potential problems.

Thank you for the opportunity to contribute. Hope it helps.
Amparo
Happy Home and Pet Sitter

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@ArjunaTHS , I agree with everything @Amparo says. I so appreciate that Welcome Guide. HO, please tell me everything there is to know about the pets. Transportation info would also be so appreciated by someone like me, who hopes to make it to the UK soon and has very little prior experience there. @Pesciolino , I like to see what the HO recommends, as far as restaurants, attractions and walks go. Nothing takes the place of a local’s first hand experience and it also tells me a little bit about the homeowner, which helps me to be a better sitter for them. I am sitting in a college town right now- pizza places abound. My HO told me about one particular place that makes pizza that you might find in NY or Italy. I plan to try it.

@ArjunaTHS , I think I’m repeating something I wrote in the other Welcome Guide thread started by @Itchyfeet , but I would like to see the format consolidated, so there are not lines of empty space that make the document six pages long when it could all comfortably fit on three.

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“ Transportation info would also be so appreciated by someone like me, who hopes to make it to the UK soon and has very little prior experience there. “

You are gonna love it! :wink:
You know who to ask

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A post was merged into an existing topic: Are we all speaking the same English language? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::smirk:

6 posts were split to a new topic: Are we all speaking the same English language? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye::smirk:

@ArjunaTHS , just want to pass on this feedback from my HO who just sent me his Welcome Guide. He found it very cumbersome to send through the website. Here is what he wrote:

Writing it was fine. Figuring out how to send it to you from the website was impossible. I ended up downloading and installing the app so I could send it.

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I always ask for the Welcome Guide and I warn those new to TH that it is quite detailed. But then I also tell them that I don’t need the entire thing. I need the info on the pets, the house and emergency contacts. I can find stores, cafes, etc. on my own. I almost always get one but there have been a few people that I have had to pester for it!

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@Snowbird I always thought that it’s the Americans that say first floor when they talk about the ground floor not the British…very confusing for a German. We also have the equivalent to ground floor: Erdgeschoss, meaning “earth” floor.

@mars that is exactly my experience. It’s really tricky to figure out how to send the welcome guide. I don’t remember how I finally managed to send it. I then created my own file to send per email.

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Thanks for the feedback. This is exactly the problem we are looking to fix soon :slight_smile:

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Thank you for all your replies so far. Some really useful feedback from everyone!

Please feel free to continue to share your experiences of the welcome guide, enjoying reading them all and we will be sure to take all feedback into consideration when working on improvements.

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Hi,
Quite a few good suggestions already.

We like to get the Welcome Guide right after the sit is confirmed. Most of the time that does not happen.

We have completed 40 sits. Probably only 2 or 3 of our sits used the THS format and application. The Homeowners generally have a Word/PDF waiting for us when we arrive, and do not use the THS site to provide it. So our first recommendation is to allow the option of uploading a PDF, or alternatively use the current method. Perhaps you could provide a Word template for the Homeowner to fill in if they prefer to use an upload. This would also likely reduce the blank space in the completed document.

Since we very seldom receive a Welcome Guide from the site, we really can’t comment on which sections are most useful.

We never feel we have been given too much info from the Homeowner. Most important is everything to deal with the pets (schedule, food, vets, medicines, how far to walk, how well they get along with other dogs, etc.); local contacts (possibly with a spare key) we may need with contact information; house information including when gardeners, cleaners, maintenance workers, etc. plan to arrive; any special requirements (watering, rubbish, recycling) etc. It’s amazing to us how much different each locality is in the UK. We use the internet often to see what goes in each container and when the various collections occur.

The worst experience we have had was with a fairly complex sit early in our THS career, when the Homeowners just had a checklist to make sure they mentioned everything. Needless to say we forgot much of it right after they left. Now we always go prepared with a yellow pad with all the most vital information we need listed, and fill it in ourselves.

Many of our owners are flying on their vacations. We like to know what airline/flight they are returning on, so we can anticipate their arrival time back. We almost always can adapt our schedule when there are delays. We will not leave a pet until we know the owner is going to be home shortly.

Hope this feedback helps. We love THS and all the services you provide!

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@Tarheel1 while we have done considerably fewer sits than you, our experience is similar. Our first sit was the only one to use the Welcome Guide. All others have left a printed document at the house. One sent us a document in advance.

Usually we have also had a phone conversation in advance of the sit, and I have taken notes from that.

I agree about the rubbish / recycling variations in the UK. We have also checked the local council’s website to confirm what we should be putting in each container!

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