Andy Peck, a writer by profession with background in writing and publishing, along with Rachel Martin, a PR professional in the travel sector have come up with TrustedHousesitters.com, that helps home and pet owners find trusted sitters to care for their home and pets while they are away on vacation or otherwise.

The website connects home and pet owners who need a sitter with trustworthy people who want to house-sit; reliable pet lovers and experienced home minders who are willing to live in their homes and look after it while they’re away – usually for free.

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In this exclusive conversation with LifebeyondNumbers, Andy Peck talks about how they started TrustedHousesitters.com, how it works, challenges they faced and lots more…

Inception of TrustedHousesitters.com

TrustedHousesitters.com began with a dog called Dave. Dave’s owners, a family living in the North of Spain, were going on vacation and needed someone to look after Dave and their house. Unable to find a suitable pet sitter and unwilling to put Dave into a kennel, they posted a classified advert online and asked anyone who was interested to get in touch.

Meanwhile back in the United Kingdom, I was working as a writer. I needed a retreat, somewhere I could go to get my head down and add the finishing touches to a screenplay I was working on and this sounded like the perfect opportunity. I got in touch with the owners and a few weeks later I was house sitting in Spain.

While looking after Dave, I realized that there were thousands of other pet owners around the world who faced the same problems when going on vacation. The idea started to grow and it wasn’t long before I was writing up an initial outline for what would eventually become TrustedHousesitters.com

What is TrustedHousesitters.com

trustedhousesitters-logo-lifebeyondnumbersTrustedHousesitters.com helps homeowners who are going away on vacation find reliable, trustworthy individuals, couples and families who will look after their house and pets while they’re away. One of the things that makes TrustedHousesitters.com really special is that the majority, over 90% of the 4,000+ people who house-sit through TrustedHousesitters.com don’t charge to house sit. This offers homeowners savings of upwards of approximately $20 per day on kennel costs or $50 per day on the cost of hiring a paid sitter. Most homeowners who use TrustedHousesitters.com tend to go on vacation for 1-2 weeks at a time and so are potentially saving themselves close to a thousand dollars on each of their trips.

Why do people house sit for free?

Sitters tend to take on house sits that are out-of-town i.e. in another city or often in another country. For example, a couple from Toronto might take on a house sit in New York. In return for walking the dog, watering the plants, or whatever responsibilities they’ve been asked to do while the owners are away, the couple get to stay there for free. Again there are huge savings to be had here: the average hotel room price in New York is over $250. A week or two week house sit in New York has the potential to save that couple several thousand dollars on accommodation costs.

Most collaborative consumption start-ups aim for a win-win setup, we’ve gone for win-win-win: Homeowners can find a free sitter, people who house sit can create a very affordable trip away for themselves and most important, the pets get looked after in the familiarity of their own home.

Watch Rachel Botsman talk about “The Rise of Collaborative Consumption” in this interesting TED Talk:

Challenges and Learning

TrustedHousesitters.com has been one big learning journey both in running an online community, something neither of us had done anything like this before, and also growing an idea in a market that doesn’t exist yet. We’ve not only had to create the business to fulfill the demand, we also had to create the awareness to help people know that this invaluable service exists.

The Way Ahead

House sitting is still a relatively new concept, both for homeowners and travelers. There are still thousands of pet owners out there, like Dave’s owners, who want to go on vacation but aren’t sure what options are available besides kenneling. So growing awareness of what TrustedHousesitters.com is able to offer home and pet owners is a big priority.

For people who want to house sit, we post around twenty new house sits per day, but we want to significantly increase this over the next few months. TrustedHousesitters.com started in the UK and so a significant proportion of our house sits are based in Europe, however we’ve seen a fantastic amount of growth in Australasia and North America. We plan to continue that growth and also to grow the concept in South America and Asia where the idea is almost completely new.