Have you ever been in a situation where you were going out of town for a few days on holiday or business, and you felt either nervous that your home might get burgled? Or perhaps you have pets and the thought of putting them in an animal shelter didn’t sit right? Well as ever, the sharing economy has a solution to that problem, and it’s called HouseSitMatch.
Liftshare has many friends in the global sharing economy, and we spoke with Lamia Walker at HouseSitMatch recently to help give our sharing, caring members fresh insight into their house-sitting community and the ways it can help them.
First, we ask Lamia to tell us how the concept came about, and what those early challenges were. “HouseSit Match was an idea that hit like a bolt of lightning after a discussion with a friend who told me she had managed to save $35K Australian Dollars in rent during one year by house-sitting,” she tells us.
“If it could work for one person’s rent, surely it could work for holiday rentals and affordable travel accommodation as well – by connecting groups of like-minded people willing to collaborate to achieve mutual benefits. It felt like there was no end to what we could achieve. We worked together to launch in the UK and Australia using our existing connections and building organically as news spread amongst our friends, and our friends’ friends until we were live across Europe, Australasia and the Caribbean.”
It was clear from the start that the HouseSitMatch concept has quickly found an audience that needed the service, and things quickly boomed from there. We asked Lamia to give us a run-down of how the site’s sitters are vetted, and how security issues are handled. Confidence and peace of mind in the sharing economy are consideration that all sites take seriously, and both HouseSitMatch and Liftshare are no exceptions.
“House-sitters are asked to offer their police checks and any house-sitting references available.” Lamia explains. “As they complete each housesit they are reviewed by the home owner, and they in turn will review the home owners also. Both parties gain a five-star rating and build an online reputation just like on Amazon. We also offer discounted access to Onfido background checking.”
For home owners, HouseSitMatch offers a similar level of security and scrutiny. Owners must first register securely on the site then create an advert for their property which includes a wealth of information – your general location, dates for the house-sitting assignment, listing any pets staying at home, and any home or garden care responsibilities required. In short; nothing is left to chance here.
“Only registered house-sitter can apply for house-sits, “Lamia adds. “During the registration process we ask sitters for their identity details, if they have references and police checks. None of the members’ real contact details are given out until they are ready to reveal those details themselves.”
Lamia confirms that the site does receive many questions around security and trust, commonly from people who haven’t tried a sharing economy site before. People who have used it before are often savvy, helpful and understand how to best-present themselves in order to offer their house-sitter or home owner peace of mind and as much information about themselves as comfortably possible.
“Though partly technology-enabled we are also detecting a shift in society.” Lamia says of the public’s shifting attitude to sharing. “Attitudes do appear to be shifting towards a more collaborative approach – more and more people are ‘sharing’ to discover more economic solutions to everyday problems whether ride sharing for affordable and green solutions in travel, to housesitting for affordable travel home and pet care.
“This could have been stimulated through better technology enabling online identity and reputation checking, and also as a reaction to the global financial crisis which has made people look to more affordable and innovative ways of solving common problems.”
It’s true that the sharing economy – while a global phenomenon – is still growing, and people who are perhaps more socially reserved or unwilling to share through understandable reasons like security and trust, are slowly coming around to the idea.
“These days people can be nostalgic about times gone by and how communities used to care for each other when families lived closer together and people lived in the same town or village for generations,” Lamia says. “Populations have become more transient, people move more readily in search for work and new opportunities. Communities are more fluid and this may give a sense of loss to those who remember more settled urban settings.
“By contrast, technology enables online communities to connect like-minded people wherever they happen to be, through safe and trusted online environments. HouseSitMatch is one such network, we offer a secure online place where like-minded people can meet, get to know each other and in our case meet to help each other in the house-sitting assignment.”
This is certainly a shift Liftshare sees on a daily basis, and we are always evolving our own tools and systems to help create the ideal car sharing network that leaves no stone unturned and puts members at ease through every step of their journey.
We close our chat with Lamia by asking for some great examples of matches made through HouseSitMatch, and she tells us that most UK members post repeat adverts, and there are also British ex-pats using the service abroad. One example is a family home in Hampshire that was matched with a sitter who looked after their home and two golden retrievers in a beautiful English village setting.
Here they are:
“The Sharing Economy is already growing apace,” Lamia says in closing,” and surrounds us in many countries around the world. There are famous examples we hear about day to day that are already a part of our landscape: Boris Bikes in London (and similar programmes all over the world), Liftshare, Uber, and ZipCar. Companies like AirBnB have experienced unprecedented success and reached the furthest corners of our planet. The Sharing Economy has a very exciting future as we see today by the current rate of growth in all types of sectors. We hope that HouseSitMatch will be able to grow in this way as it helps people all around the world.”
Thanks to Lamia for another great sharing economy interview on Liftshare! Have you used HouseSitMatch before? If so, let us know in the comments or on Twitter @Liftshare. You can also get 20% off the site using the code LIFTSHARE-20.