Trustedhousesitters.com is growing fast in over 50 countries and solves a common problem for home or pet owners globally when going away, enabling them to find ideal house sitters to look after their home and pets free of charge, in exchange for an (often very luxurious) place to retreat to.
Homeowners create a secure listing on the website detailing house or pet sitting requirements, which is then internally sent to registered sitters. They shortlist sitters by relevant pet care experience, photos, video profiles, police check information, references, and comprehensive sitter information.
Registered sitters receive a daily email alert about the latest house sits, opening up a world of travel opportunities and the two parties communicate directly via the secure messaging system on the website.
House sitting forms part of the growing 'Collaborative Consumption' market cited by Time Magazine amongst '10 ideas that will change the way we live our lives'. It's proving to be an invaluable win-win with fast growing demand.
We believe trustedhousesitters.com offers many benefits for its users.
Peace of mind for home and pet owners:
* According to vet experts, pets are far happier, remaining less stressed if avoiding kennels and able to stay in their own home when owners go away.
* Trustedhousesitters.com aims to enable big savings vs cost of kennels or pet sitting agencies.
* A house sitter ensures a home is maintained, not left empty and therefore an ideal deterrent against burglary. It also prevents insurance policies becoming void if a home is unoccupied for more than 30 days.
* A house sitter also ensures plants and gardens are looked after.
* All this helps anyone with a home, pets, and also second homeowners and expats.
Free retreat and accommodation for house sitters:
* Many people house-sit to save a fortune on expensive hotel accommodation, swerving touristy resorts and eating out costs.
* House sitting often enables a unique kind of retreat, and often in accommodation beyond the usual budget.
* A decadent stay-cation house sitting may cost little extra than the price of the petrol to get there.
* House sitting is ideal for long term overseas travel. Press internationally also report a huge surge in the 'grey gap year' and more retirees travelling.
* House sitting long term could also save thousands in rising living costs as many are able to live rent free in London, Europe, or worldwide with Trustedhousesitters.com.
* House sitting easily enables trialing expat life, or relocating.
* Looking after a pet if the home has any, could also help relaxation.
* House sitting provides an accommodation solution for visiting friends and families, especially when overseas or extended stays.
These and many more external factors make us feel that house sitting works for both parties and thousands of Trustedhousesitters.com members already - and works just as well in tough economic times too.
Substantial accomplishments to date
Over 12,500 registered users
Average 5,000+ visitors to the Trustedhousesitters website daily.
Alexa Rating under 62,000.
1m+ page views pcm.
We already have house sitters registered from over 70 countries, and house sitting opportunities in over 50 countries.
60% revenue increase pro-rata vs last quarter
£25,000 revenue in Jan 2013.
A recent survey we undertook showed that 96% of homeowners asked would use Trustedhousesitters.com again as well as recommend us to a friend.
Gaining brand recall globally. 25% of new memberships from word of mouth.
Global TV & press coverage. Featured on BBC & broadsheets including Sunday Times & Telegraph.
One of the 'Top 10 money saving websites' according to Lovemoney.com. Daily Mail & Reader's Digest Website of the Week
No.1 Google ranking for house sitting in UK. Fast gaining ground for key search terms worldwide.
Partnerships building with Saga, Veterinary and Police Associations. In discussions with RSPCA & ASPCA. Growing partnerships with many of the world's most prolific travel writers/ bloggers (using the site).
More house sits than any other known house sitting portal worldwide.
Subscription based business model for both house sitters and homeowners. House sitters can register from 3, 6 or 12 months, costing £26, £38 or £49 respectively. Sitters receive a daily email alert about the latest house sits and can apply directly.
Homeowners can create a listing to find a sitter free of charge - then gauge response by seeing profiles of who has responded, then pay to correspond. Homeowners pay a similar registration fee to sitters, also with 1 month option for £15. Our survey showed that 75% of sitters that have registered (and added a photo and any reference to their listing) have found a house sit, showing just how accessible house sitting is for members that can demonstrate caring qualities, and have some pet care experience (e.g. previous pet ownership). We've found that most members join for a shorter period to start with, then renew membership annually.
When homeowners find a sitter, they can switch their listing to 'house sitter found', then next time they go away, they can easily reactivate their listing, updating specific information e.g. dates house sitter required.
We also recently introduced combined annual membership for £64 as many sitters and homeowners have expressed interest and have now subscribed for both house sitting and finding a sitter, we find this is far more flexible than house swapping.
Membership base is rapidly growing from more traffic to the website via Google, press and word of mouth, and also a strong and consistent amount of membership renewals. Referral traffic represents almost 25% of new memberships.
Future plans include affiliate programmes, expanded PPC initiatives and targeted premium advertising on the site via strategic partnerships with the right fit - e.g. flight bookers, car hire, home insurance and pet brands.
Use of proceeds
To boost SEO support and content marketing to drive worldwide search rankings. Organic Google searches represents 50% of revenue and site visitors. We've identified key terms to build on and potential to increase visitors by over 600% via SEO alone. We believe we are growing at a much faster rate than any competitors, and that we have quickly become one of the world's biggest house sitting website, so believe this is very attainable.
Membership conversion rates are 0.5%. We've identified numerous ways to rapidly increase this to 1-1.5% via further site developments again multiplying potential. Increased spend on PPC already returning 2.5 x ROI.
Build targeted affiliate marketing campaign globally. Increase specialist resource for US PR campaign to spread awareness and take advantage of the key holiday times targeting major airlines, news, pet and travel on/offline channels.
Bolster support to build partnerships with relevant key associations worldwide (e.g. travel, pet, expat, retirement groups)
The potential target market for Trustedhousesitters is huge:
Homeowners (usually ABC1 35+)
* Home & Pet Owners worldwide (In 2012, it is estimated that 48% of UK households and 62% of US households have at least one pet. We believe these high statistics are replicated across most of the Western world.
* Second home owners (estimated at approximately 4 million in UK, US & Australia alone).
* Expats worldwide, especially those with homes in less secure regions and / or with pets (estimates for example of over 5 million British expats, and 4 million from the US; 1.3 million British expats in Australia and 760,000 in Spain). In many regions worldwide, we find that expats complain that kenneling facilities are poor.
* Homeowners travelling for longer duration (house insurance usually becomes invalid if a home is left empty over 30 days)
* Farm / specialist animal owners that cannot kennel pets (eg horses, chickens)
* Homes in probate / long term for sale
* Gite / holiday home owners
* Anyone not wanting to leave their home empty when they go on holiday
House sitters (primary target market: men, women and couples aged 35+ ABC1 - also families)
* Anyone looking to save on a retreat or stay-cation - UK or overseas accommodation
* Semi retired, retirees or mature travelers (huge rise in the Grey Gap year according to a Post Office survey).
* City dwellers looking for an affordable alternative to long term accommodation
* Overseas families visiting, UK alone has over 8m visitors per year visiting friends and family, often long term with nowhere to be put up and facing expensive alternatives e.g. parents visiting son in London / Sydney / LA / Paris / any other big city! Also (grand) parents visiting children overseas while at University.
* Location Independent workers which in our opinion the numbers are rapidly increasing e.g. travel writers and bloggers
* Associations worldwide e.g. retired police/vets and vet nurses/teachers/clergy/medics/professional services e.g. teachers and ex-forces
* Those considering relocating or where to emigrate to (trial expat living)
Characteristics of target market
House sitting provides a win-win that is very much part of the growing collaborative consumption trend - named by Time magazine as 1 of 10 ideas that will change the world.
House sitting is increasingly in demand as people prefer not to put pets into kennels when going away and worry about the risk of leaving a home empty.
Expats and 2nd homeowners in many wonderful locations worldwide, we have discovered, find the services of a pet sitter invaluable. With more people travelling, especially seniors, and for longer, we believe the demand would only escalate.
Pet sitting agencies and independent pet sitters can be costly, so a chance to read in detail about and select your own sitter keen to house sit free of charge is very appealing. Skype also makes this growing win-win means of finding a sitter very easy.
Press report house sitting as a growing travel trend globally as an affordable & attractive means of taking a break, enjoying retirement, long-term travel or even emigrating/living rent-free.
SEO is a big driver for Trustedhousesitters.com and we have grown site visits via Google 237% since last year thanks to our recently-appointed SEO expert. There are over 6 million Google searches for pet/house sitting related terms worldwide every month, and we're fast gaining ground each month in this fairly dormant and very disruptable market.
PR - House sitting offers many compelling feature angles, both from travel trend perspectives (e.g. avoiding resorts and hotels, budget, family, stay-cation, retirement travel) to pets, personal finance and homes features. With an endless supply of case studies sent to us weekly from members worldwide about their unique house sitting adventures or pet sitter endorsements.
Travel writers and bloggers - many with growing loyalty to Trustedhousesitters.com are helping spread the word by house sitting and writing about us.
PPC - generating over 250% ROI for targeting house sitters worldwide.
Other online advertising - expats forums (currently advertising with AngloInfo) which has generated approximately 400 home listings and helped drive awareness across Europe.
Affiliate Marketing - we've been approached by a leading US pet group about building a joint affiliate programme and plan to introduce this with key partners globally. We have small affiliate arrangements with a couple of prolific travel blog sites although are now planning to develop a full affiliate network, not just targeting flight and travel sites globally, but also retirement, expat, finance and holiday home markets.
Associations - there are many relevant associations to target whose members would benefit from house sitting or finding a house sitter. We've been featured in Saga and retired police newsletters. We aim to soon employ a Partnerships Manager to build on this potential. Social Media plays a big role in spreading word-of-mouth. We have nearly 5000 'likes' on Facebook, rapidly growing as emotive subjects; travel and pets attract huge talkability.
Trustedhousesitters.com has entered what we felt was a fairly dormant market and quickly grown a large membership base with a large number of house sitting opportunities - which is why so many find Trustedhousesitters.com as their preferable means of finding a house sit. We feel that one of the reasons for this, is that we have a more comprehensive website than any house sitting competitor, offering more information for homeowners therefore giving most peace of mind. This in turn attracts more house sitters as we get so many attractive house sitting opportunities. In our opinion current competitors have basic websites and little to no marketing activity. We feel we have leapfrogged them, even though they have been trading for 10 years or so.
We are continually developing the site further to secure increased market share, and attract new members to house sitting. House sitting agencies charge expensive rates for sitters and feedback from our users is they prefer to choose their sitter and as no money changes hands the relationship is one of mutual respect and a win-win for both parties. Kennels/catteries are losing popularity as pets are cited as more a part of the family unit than ever. We have more than double the house sitting opportunities in the UK and Europe as any other digital house sitting business which attracts dozens of US and Australian sitters every week.
Ahead of our competitors, we have developed strong relationships with lead travel journalists and bloggers who have used the service and written about us which is also creating strong barriers to entry and ensuring that media cite us as their favourite house sitting resource as more and more are house sitting via Trustedhousesitters.
We have a strong team in place to help deliver our key objectives for increasing revenues in the next 12 months, and have identified many exciting opportunities which will all help us dominate the market and rapidly scale globally.