The GREAT Award at the Virgin Media Business VOOM competition this year was looking for businesses that are excelling in exporting their products or services overseas. Winners TrustedHousesitters couldn’t believe their luck when their victory was announced…
“I felt elated,” founder Andy Peck says. “It’s great to get the recognition for what we do. We really felt elated because we’ve come up with something that is very original and is completely revolutionising travel – we’re helping more people get away, more people enjoy travel and adventure, and more people to have authentic experiences.”
Founded in 2010, TrustedHousesitters has grown phenomenally over the last three years as people look for alternative ways to travel on a budget. “We’re revolutionising travel,” Peck says. “We’re helping people go away with the peace of mind that their pets are happier at home and safe with one of our Housesitters. It’s also enabling people to go in stay in places that they would never normally be able to.
“For example we had somebody need someone to look after their castle in Ireland where they film Game of Thrones and their cat. So all you’ve got to do is look after a cat and you’re staying in a 600-acre castle.”
Peck says they also have people who need someone to look after their beachfront home in Mexico, or house in Tuscany, or Caribbean island. It’s great, he says, for retirees because they often don’t have the money to travel in the way that they’d like and also for solo travellers who enjoy the companionship of having a pet to come home to.
“We won the GREAT Award I think for two reasons,” he says. “First because we’re great at exporting what we do. We have members all around the world that are joining TrustedHousesitters – we’ve currently got members in 140 countries and we’ve helped save them over £150million in accommodation and pet care costs, which is phenomenal.
“But we’re also helping the UK economy because we’re bringing a lot of people here to enjoy a break in the UK and we’re helping people have a staycation. For example, if you wanted to go to the Cotswolds for a weekend, you’d still have to spend a lot of money on accommodation but now could you could go and look after a dog and live in a beautiful house and it would only cost you to get there.”
So how will winning the GREAT Award at VOOM help their business? Well, part of the prize includes a trip to Downing Street to meet with the Prime Minister’s business advisors and Peck says that they’re hoping that will enable them to work with the UK government, and organisations like UKTI and Visit Britain. “We really want to champion the sharing economy,” he says. “The sharing economy has been embraced in a big way in the UK already and really we want to champion what we offer as a real core part of the sharing economy.”