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MindMyHouse News

MindMyHouse News 22 April 2006

by Susan Holtham

Check out this tenth edition of MindMyHouse News for all of the following: our new sitter wanted adverts from the Sierra Mountains, California (USA), to Cape Cod, Massachusetts (USA); we are very excited to have rolled out our new interactive map feature; our call for volunteer French and German site translators has borne fruit; age discrimination among home owners – does it exist?; proof that the Digsville and MindMyHouse connection is working; and a home owner’s feedback pulls us up on our spelling and grammar – ouch.

Dear MindMyHousies,
Happy Easter to you all. I hope wherever in the world our little community e-newsletter finds you that you have been given time off your usual toil to play, eat chocolate and spend some time reflecting on things.

Check out this tenth edition of MindMyHouse News for all of the following:

  • our new sitter wanted adverts from the Sierra Mountains, California, to Cape Cod, Massachusetts;
  • we are very excited to have rolled out our new interactive map feature
  • our call for volunteer French and German site translators has borne fruit
  • age discrimination among home owners – does it exist?
  • proof that the Digsville and MindMyHouse connection is working;
  • and a home owner’s feedback pulls us up on our spelling and grammar – ouch.

Don’t know where Saskatchewan is? Check out our new interactive map feature

We are ecstatic to report that we have rolled out our new map feature! (We must give a big thank you to Google for this free piece of mapping software.) You can now tap into this nifty visual aid anytime you are looking at one of our sitter wanted adverts. When you are looking at the full view of an advert the map will automatically download in the right hand corner of the page. You can zoom in or out of these maps. We think that the nice sharp little marker point stuck in the relevant country map really adds to the whole searching experience.

There’s another way to enjoy this new site feature. Click on ‘view’ under the image of the world map on the homepage to see every one of our current sitter wanted adverts at a glance. This world view of our map feature is much more interactive than the individual maps that accompany the adverts (and it’s easy to click through to the full view of the sitter wanted advert from here.) For more fun than you can have on a Sunday afternoon at your aunty’s place try clicking on the + and – arrows to zoom into the location of the assignment all the way to the nearest city, or click and drag to pan around. Wowsa!

Do home owners discriminate against older and younger house sitters?

The whole idea of home owners choosing or rejecting potential house sitters based on their age group is somewhat vexed. When searching for house sitters, home owners will of course be working with a whole raft of ‘preferences’ in mind such as age, gender, marital status, lifestyle, appearance and yes, how well-written (or otherwise) the sitter available adverts are. But maybe I could suggest here that age is one of the less important variables that shouldn’t necessarily carry much weight in the selection process.

I have been alerted to this issue by a lovely couple who are among the 1% of our membership who are in the 70+ age group. When David asked me how to change his age group in his sitter available advert I just had to ask him if he was concerned about home owners discriminating against him because of his age.

‘To be honest if I were in an owners position seeking for a house sitter I might be hesitant to select a person in the 70+ range when there might be others with equal credentials of a younger age. Why? It is well documented that frailty in seniors takes a sharp negative turn in the seventies and more so in the eighties. Owners are less likely to accept the inherent liability risk that characterizes advancing years. This I can understand. So, yes I do believe owners might discriminate with age. This is understandable, however having accepted this fact, the reality is that our calendar is already booked through July with housesitting assignments including a four-week cat sit in San Jose, Costa Rica.’

On the other side of the coin how do the 16% of our membership under 25 fare in the age-discrimination stakes? I’ve just published a piece of research in the Media section of our Community area that has some findings that may make the under-30s among our membership cringe. Read it here and tell me what you think. I’d love to hear about your experiences of age and house sitting.

Proof that the Digsville and MindMyHouse connection is working!

Digsville (Ed: update, the Digsville site is now inactive, sorry)

I was thrilled to receive an email from one of our happy house sitters the other week with good news about the Digsville – MindMyHouse connection. The lovely Jennifer from New Zealand reported that she had replied to one of our sitter wanted adverts from the States and was pleased to have been given the assignment. She went on to add that the home owner was a Digsville member who was on what’s known in the trade as a ‘non-simultaneous’ house swap. Things can get very complicated in the world of home exchanging which often means that one home (and in this case someone’s much loved cats) can be left untended and in need of care for a time. Enter stage left: our MindMyHouse house sitter who was ready and able to step into the breach. It’s great to have proof that our affiliation with the global home exchange site, Digsville, is benefiting both of our groups of members.

If you are interested in listing your home for home exchange offers from Digsville members worldwide or just perusing the listings for something tempting don’t forget that as a MindMyHouse member you are entitled to a discounted Digsville membership. At only US$35 per year, we think that’s a snip for what could be lots of free holiday accommodation!

How’s yer spelling? A home owner recently told us they don’t think it’s up to scratch!

I’m always probing our home owner members for feedback on our service so that we can make even more improvements to what we think is the best house sitting website going! (Not to mention the only one that is free for house sitters to use.) I was a bit dismayed to receive the following comment from an anonymous home owner about the quality of some of your written adverts.

‘It may be helpful to offer some guidelines or do some editing of house sitter ads as many are full of misspellings and other errors, which do not inspire confidence.’

I did think their criticism was a bit harsh as they were reading adverts from all of those sitters who want to sit in France – which would have included at least a few house sitters who did not have English as a first language.

I cannot stress how important it is to have a well written advert that contains enough detail about yourself and what you have to offer home owners. Uploading one or more photos to your advert will do wonders to instantly lift it above the rest and ‘inspire confidence’ in discerning home owners.

The good news is that we are here to help you to present your house and pet sitting services to a global audience of home owners in the best possible light. We do have a free editorial service which I automatically offer to members without English as a first language. However, I welcome anyone who would like help crafting their advert to send me a draft of their sitter available advert by email. As long as you have included enough information in your draft I can weave your words into something that is easy for home owners to read.

Good luck with it!

Happy house sitting (or best of luck with your sitters!)

Susan Holtham
aka the team at MindMyHouse

Posted in: MindMyHouse News
Susan Holtham

About the author: Susan Holtham

The editor at MindMyHouse is a fun gal, intrepid traveller (in a former life), holder of three passports and enthusiastic house sitter. A book editor by trade, she did a three-year stint with Lonely Planet Publications at the start of her career. During her time at LP she shepherded many titles through the production process. Baaaa-aaaa-aaaaaa! Now that two gorgeous little girls call her mummy she's a very busy woman tending to their needs and to the occasional cries for help from among our 5000+ membership. No really, she's always keen to help!