For a business that started out in a bedroom in Brighton in 2010, TrustedHousesitters has come a long way, and much of it has been down to forming well thought-out partnerships.
Our easyJet partnership announcement is the latest in a string of game-changing alliances. Customers booking flights on easyJet are being offered the chance to connect with our caring, verified house sitters who will look after their pets and homes for free while they are away.
Free house and pet sitting has always been our core business model, offered in return for accommodation. By providing these connections across 130 countries, we are helping thousands of home owners all over the world to travel with the reassurance that their pets are being looked after in their familiar home environments whenever they need to go away.
At the same time, we are opening up a world of authentic travel to trusted, caring pet lovers who can stay in homes for free because of a shared love of animals.
The easyJet partnership came about through an introduction from the Founders Factory, the corporate backed accelerator founded by Brent Hoberman and Henry Lane Fox. We were immediately introduced to the right people who agreed that this would be a great opportunity for growth.
We pitched our ideas for discussion, set up workshops with the teams responsible for bringing each element of the partnership together – including customer relationship marketing, social and digital teams and PR – and then we scoped the customer journey. We all worked hard on landing the contractual agreement, succeeding in getting the partnership live in under 12 months.
Although this felt like a long time to a growing business like ours, it was definitely worth the wait. By adding free house and pet sitting to easyJet’s customer offering when passengers book flights, we are helping millions more people to use our win-win travel solution for animal lovers and we’re helping to boost the travel industry as more people fly more often, with greater peace of mind – not to mention with extra money in their pockets to spend on holiday.
As a business, it was a huge milestone to make this announcement and it topped a run of partnerships we have worked hard to forge in the past 18 months.
The first was with digital verification experts Onfido, which has given our community the power to earn a series of digital trust badges that sit alongside their profile, helping them to increase their chances of getting the best house sits. This was arranged directly by our founders, who met with the Onfido team and strongly felt they were the most robust verification check that is available on the market.
Pets Corner is one of the bricks and mortar partnerships that helps to spread the word about TrustedHousesitters among its customers.
The second was with bricks-and-mortar retailer Pets Corner, with shops across the UK. To make this happen, we pitched directly to the CEO. As we’re both Sussex-based pet businesses, it made sense to meet and explore potential partnership ideas. We drew up a Heads of Terms agreement and established the marketing touchpoints, with some commercial negotiation layered on top we were able to sign the deal pretty quickly.
Another partnership we’re proud of is the fact we work with Skyscanner so that house sitters can find the best value flights whenever they apply for a sit. This came about through meetings with between the senior team, directly approaching Skyscanner after being introduced through digital travel circles.
All our partnerships bring added value to our members, but the easyJet and Pets Corner partnerships also help us to reach new audiences, either through digital marketing or, in the case of Pets Corner, a network of more than 100 UK stores.
While we are a fast-growing digital business, bricks and mortar retailers will always be vital to us as we expand in the UK, Europe and into new growth markets like Australia, the US and Canada.
This is because TrustedHousesitters, now the world’s largest house and pet sitting company, is about connecting people and real, authentic experiences. Ultimately, we are dedicated to putting kind and caring people together in the real world.
Our goals are to see the sharing economy grow through trust rather than renting, and to continue to drive this forward by connecting likeminded, caring people who love travel and the company of animals.
My three tips for partnerships:
- Research, research, research. Know the brand you want to work with inside out and make sure they’re best aligned with your customers and product
- Prepare for your meetings. Have a set of questions you want answers to and when you think you’ve asked them all just ask one more!
- Broaden your mind. Look outside the obvious partner brands, think beyond the digital space and discover opportunities offline
Georgina Richardson is chief operating officer for TrustedHousesitters