Finding safe, trustworthy babysitting services while on vacation or away at a convention, conference, or wedding, is not always something travelers think is available. And in some cases, children are not brought along on a trip at all, specifically because of concerns about who will provide childcare in a far-flung destination.
Enter, Destination Sitters – a hotel and event babysitting service designed to solve such challenges. Whether you’re traveling for leisure, business, or a wedding, Destination Sitters wants you to be able to bring your children along with the knowledge that they will be cared for by prescreened, fully-vetted and trusted sitters, at your hotel room or vacation rental, your event, or with you at a theme-park or the beach. It’s a game changing value proposition that sets Destination Sitters apart from the many woefully inadequate childcare options currently faced by parents while traveling. FTA recently sat down with founder Yvonne Lane to discuss her company, how it got started and how much it has grown.
FTA: What was the initial inspiration for Destination Sitters?
YL: Personal need. I had moved to San Diego and needed childcare. I had called a couple of agencies locally and they sent me the most unqualified people. And then I went to my attorney and said – I have this idea, what do I need? I found out that there are no licensing requirements, no vetting requirements, nothing. So, the two of us sat down and developed the standards for a babysitting agency. I don’t know of another agency that does what we do. We require our sitters to have first-aid and CPR, a background check, a drug test and they must undergo random drug testing. We also do also reference checks – both personal and professional. Our sitters come in a Destination Sitters’ polo shirt, have a photo ID badge, and bring a bag of toys, games, and books.
FTA. Was Destination Sitters an immediate success?
YL: I started with five hotels in San Diego. Then five grew to 70 in San Diego. And then, I ended up sitting for one of the senior vice-presidents of Hyatt and he said I’m the best agency he had ever run across. He told the western General Managers to look to Destination Sitters for their guests’ babysitting needs. That introduced us to all the Hyatt brands and we rapidly expanded to those and other hotels in Orange County, Los Angeles, and so on.
Q. Where does Destination Sitters currently operate?
We have locations in nine cities – seven in California. They include San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles/Long Beach, the greater Palm Springs area, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and San Jose. We also currently operate in Las Vegas and Orlando. Before COVID hit, we were planning to expand to New York, Nashville, and into Seattle. Ultimately want to be a national brand that has a presence in about 30 cities.
Q. What age-range do your sitters care for?
Infants to about 15-years old, but typically the children we’re providing sitters for are about one to 12 years old. The youngest was a two-week-old whose mom was a keynote speaker at a conference in San Diego. We went on location with her and sat behind the stage and babysat her child. In addition, we have sitters available who speak a variety of languages.
FTA: What are some of the hotels you work with?
YL: We work with all of them – Hyatt, Hilton, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Westin, Four Seasons, all of them. We operate in 1400 hotels throughout the country right now and can provide sitters at any property, hotel, or resort. The concierges call us or the parent’s book with us directly. On the events side, we do weddings; we also create and host parties for kids so that adults can have adult events. We even dog sit at hotels for families that travel with pets.
FTA: Can you talk about some of the corporate events and organizations you have provided services for?
YL: I work with the NFL, the Pro Bowl, the NCAA, Maritz Travel, and destination management companies. I’ve also worked with the Cystinosis, Hemophiliac and other charitable foundations providing support for their events. We regularly will take care of kids who have special needs.
FTA: What do you think travelers need to know about securing childcare services when traveling?
YL: Use my agency wherever you can. If my agency is not available, you need ask a potential service whether they have liability insurance? Ask them how they screen the specific sitter who is coming to watch your child and whether that sitter has actually successfully completed all the screening before they babysit your child. Only then will you know what you are getting. That is the biggest thing. Parents make this assumption that the babysitters have all been carefully screened. And even if they say they have screening standards, they often do not follow- through.
FTA: Is there anything else you want FTA members to know?
YL: That this company exists. There are a lot of people who don’t understand that they can travel with their children and still have an adult evening out. It’s always best to book a little in advance, but we do many same-day bookings as well. You can call, email, or book online. Now you can travel with you kids.
Event Childcare: https://www.destinationsitters.com/event-childcare/
Wedding Childcare: https://www.destinationsitters.com/wedding-childcare/
Pet Sitting: https://www.destinationsitters.com/wedding-childcare/
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