08 Jan How to travel with peace of mind when leaving your pets at home
Meet Angela, The TrustedHousesitters’ Award-Winning Community Manager.
You have to be a very special person to be a Community Manager at TrustedHousesitters, which is why the honorable title was given to their very own full-time house and pet sitter, Angela. Working as the expert of house and pet sitting, she helps their members day and night. The TrustedHousesitters community loves her, and more importantly, she loves them.
“I have the best job in the world, because I get to talk to our members every day.”
Here, Angela answered our questions about house and pet sitting, and what it’s like to be the champion of the TrustedHousesitters community.
TrustedHousesitters is an online service connecting pet owners with pet sitters. How does it work?
TrustedHousesitters is a membership-based organisation; both pet owners and sitters pay an annual subscription to join our trusted, global, pet-loving community. Membership gives full and unlimited access to the website, sitters have access to the most approved worldwide pet sitting opportunities and owners access to thousands of verified sitters.
What sets TrustedHousesitters apart is no money changes hands, except for the one-time annual fee. Sitters are passionate pet lovers who provide 24/7 in-home pet care and choose to sit for free in exchange for free accommodation, pet company, connecting with like-minded people and staying in places where they can experience living like a local.
Owners post their listing on the site with details of pets, home and travel dates, sitters are notified when any listing goes live and can apply via the member’s account secure messaging system, owners can proactively search for and contact sitters who they believe will be right for their pets and home. At no point do owners ever lose control of whom they invite into their homes.
Sitters create a profile which contains all of the information an owner needs to make an informed decision. Profiles include personal information, pet and home care experience, previous sit reviews, references, verifications and photographs.
Once an owner and sitter connect and make the choice to confirm the arrangement which is done after copious amounts of communication, including Skype calls and even pre sit home visits, when possible and only when both parties are completely happy and confident that each is right for the other, a relationship begins to develop so by the time the sitter arrives at the home they are no longer strangers.
Sitters have access to a Welcome Manual, completed by the owner which contains all of the relevant pet information, emergency contacts, home details and other facts and useful location information and while on a sit, house sitters have access to the owner’s 24/7 Veterinary Help Line which is included in their membership. According to personal preferences, direct communication is set up between owners and sitters, often via WhatsApp so they can remain in contact when owners are traveling, sending and receiving pets “Hello’s” and updates.
All members have access to TrustedHousesitters 24 hour Membership Services Team, based in our UK HQ. They can be contacted via Live Chat, email and direct local phone numbers.
You have been given the title of Community Manager. How has an online business managed to create a sense of community?
Communication, communication and more communication. At the very heart of who we are and what we do are the animals; love for animals transcends any language or cultural differences. We are a community of like-minded people drawn together by our passion to help keep pets happy at home, connecting with our members via the website blog, telling their wonderful stories. Reaching out and supporting members on an individual basis connecting via Social Media strengthens community, our Facebook community is 240,000 strong, Instagram 43K but it’s not about the numbers it’s about connecting and we have a highly engaged audience.
BUT … most importantly, keeping the heart in our company, remembering above all our members come first, ALL of our members… two and four-legged.
Who makes a good pet sitter?
Pet sitting is a lifestyle choice and it may sound obvious but first and foremost you must be someone who loves animals, is aware of their needs and experienced with the ones they apply to care for.
There is no age limit as long as one is fit and healthy and can meet owners expectations and pet’s needs. The lifestyle suits male, female, couples, singles, families. Full time, part-time, occasionally there are so many pet sitting choices that it can fit into any and every pet lover’s life and travel choices.
Someone who enjoys travelling and meeting people, a good communicator, professional, independent, resourceful, adaptable, a good planner, reliable, trustworthy, responsible, flexible, generous of mind and spirit and comfortable in their own skin.
Pet and house sitting is not for everyone. There is huge responsibility attached to being a pet sitter, it is certainly not a free vacation or the answer to accommodation issues, it can also throw up challenges when you least expect it but the lifestyle is incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Members quotes include “We get back far more than we give and there are certain things in life we cannot put a price on – pet love is one. It has truly changed our lives.”
For those starting out, the advice is always to start local and with a short sit to see if it is a lifestyle for you.
How is pet sitting different from traditional travel or being on holiday?
Pet sitting is not a vacation but authentic, slow travel allowing sitters to immerse themselves in a community living like a local. It is conducive to having meaningful travel experiences … you are staying in a place, not merely visiting. Best of all you have company of the very best kind … pets.
For owners using the website for the first time what are your recommendations for finding a sitter?
Firstly come to the site with a good lead-in time. Create a great, informative and interesting listing with the best quality photos of pets and homes, sitters like to see the pets they will be caring for and where they will be calling home.
Search for local sitters and proactively contact any available sitters that you feel will be right for your pets and home.
Read all of the applicants’ messages and view profiles. Look for references, reviews and verifications. Many new members will not have TrustedHousesitters reviews but if they have excellent references from external sources and have supplied a great, informative profile which gets your attention then it’s advisable to start a conversation, after all even those (like myself) with multiple reviews had to start somewhere.
The secret to having a successful pet sitter experience is communication. If you connect with an applicant and can imagine them living your life, when all of the information they provide through their profile and conversations, gives you the confidence that they are the RIGHT fit and you mutually agree on all of the aspects, expectations and conditions of the sit then you have made the right choice. Like-minded humans coming together with the happiness of pets and care of homes at the very centre of their intention.
The owner never loses control of whom they invite into their home and should also remember there is something called instinct, rely on it.
What are the busiest months for TrustedHousesitters?
We are a global organisation and so demand can vary according to hemispheres. Christmas is busy globally, summer months in the Northern hemisphere, May through October and the Southern hemisphere, October through March. School holidays and other seasonal pulse points such as Easter and Thanksgiving.
There is extra demand during certain times but increasingly we are finding the demand is year-round.
What makes a successful pet sit?
Communication, transparency and preparation by both parties.
Are pets generally happier in their own home?
This is one of those occasions when “if only they could talk” comes into play.
I’ve completed 200 sits and cared for hundreds of pets. I’m typing this with an adorable cat called Fluffy lying on my legs, she’s been there for over an hour (I need to move but then we know how that goes 🙂
Vets will tell you pets adjust easier to another human than a new environment, with a TrustedHousesitter nothing in their life changes, except their human caregiver, they are in their safe and familiar environment with someone who loves them as if they were their own and cares for them just as the owner would, often giving them even more attention, after all, that’s what we are here for … they are our first priority.
Many pets we care for are rescues and they cannot be returned to a boarding environment.
I can’t think that if asked any pet would rather be anywhere other than in their own home.
What happens if a pet sitter has a problem they cannot resolve alone?
We have a 24-hour Membership Services Team on hand with help and advice they can be contacted via Live Chat, email and local phone numbers located on the website and I’m always available.
Who pays for travel expenses to do with the sit and will the sitter incur any costs during their stay?
Sitters are responsible for their own travel arrangements and costs but with accommodation and related costs being the largest expense of any travel the saving can offset any travel expense.
With so many opportunities available a sitter doesn’t have to travel the globe to have wonderful experiences, I had two amazing sits 8 miles apart 50 miles from home and my first sit was literally 10 mins from my home. Low-cost airlines also make short-haul travel affordable and many owners also provide a car for their sitters coming in from abroad.
There should be no costs to the sitter other than their own food and provisions. Sitters and owners should clarify any financial arrangements and reimbursement of any unforeseen expenses which may occur and related to the sit before confirming the arrangement.
What do owners have to provide for pet sitters during their stay?
A safe, clean and comfortable environment according to the agreed Code of Conduct. Personal space to allow sitters to feel at home, all pet-related items, food, any medications etc., and all amenities according to their listing.
Many owners will leave a welcome package of food gifts for their sitters and will invite them to use store cupboard supplies and other food and drink, but this is down to their thoughtfulness and generosity and not a condition of the pet sitting stay.
Arrangements vary with each sit and it’s up to both parties to mutually agree on the conditions of the sit before accepting.
Are some of your members owners and pet sitters?
Yes we have a Combined Membership.
Do owners and pet sitters make long lasting friendships? And do they often get repeat bookings?
Yes, I know this from first-hand experience and from our community at large. I have made life long friends with owners and have been back to care for pets and as a friend multiple times. In 2018 we held our first Sitter of the Year Awards and had over 1,000 nominations from owners who had a sitter in 2018. Many were stories of friendships and connections that will last forever … all brought together by pets, they are the glue that bonds us all.
What do you think is the key to the success of TrustedHousesitters?
Placing animals at the heart of everything we do.
Our sense of community.
Owners who appreciate their sitters as being priceless.
Sitters who give their care for free.
Our HQ team of dedicated, caring professionals.
The pawfect combination for success!
How would you describe TrustedHousesitters in 3 words?
Pets, People and Places
For more information on joining as a home owner or as a pet sitter visit www.trustedhousesitters.com