Destination Sitters provides fully vetted, strictly screened, and highly experienced sitters for your travel experiences. Whether you want a night out on the town without the kids, desire extra assistance in an amusement park, or have special needs to meet, Destination Sitters connects travelers with experts.
FTA recently chatted with Founder & Managing Director Yvonne Lane, about how Destination Sitters came about and what they have to offer. With 10 locations across California, Nevada and Floriday, Lane plans to expand to many more cities in the near future once able to find qualified sitters. Here’s what Lane had to say about travel and the year ahead.
How did Destination Sitters come about?
Personal need. I was traveling with my own children, and made the assumption that there were standards in the temporary babysitting space, and found out there were not. I thought, “Well, I think I can do better,” and called my attorney. I was assuming there were some licensing and screening standards, and there wasn’t, which completely blew me away. So the two of us sat down and came up with our screening standards and wanted to create peace of mind for parents traveling with their children. And if they end up in one of our presently 10 locations that are open, we would be able to provide a safe environment for them to leave their children essentially with a stranger.
What kind of standards do you have for sitters?
Every single one of our sitters is prescreened. They’re CPR/first-aid certified background check, DOJ, FBI, child abuse, negative drug panel, random drug testing, references. Once they’re fully vetted, they come with our polo, ID, and bag of toys. Right now, with COVID being rampant, we have all of our sitters vaccinated, and then limited toys, masks, hand sanitizer, stuff like that.
And who are these sitters?
We go after nursing, pre-med, child development, teaching degrees, graduate programs. The way our company is designed, they’re already caregivers. So it’s a perfect fit for them. And they tell us when they can work. So, for them, it’s a good gig, because if they’re doing clinical rotations or internships for teaching, those demand a crazy amount of time. So for them to make money outside of those other requirements, they’re all on board with us. And then the other thing is that they’re already caregivers, essentially. So parents are like, “Wow, you mean, I have a neonatal nursing student as my babysitter? Of course you can have my kids.”
What does the sit look like for parents?
They essentially get a sit confirmation that looks like a hotel booking, the dates, times, location of the hotel. And then there’s a little bio on the sitter, and then the sitter calls day of sit to check in and say hi. And we do our best to accommodate any last-minute changes.
Aside from individual hotel sits, you also work with big organizations like the NFL, the luxury arm of Airbnb, and Disneyland. Tell us more about the amusement parks.
Disneyland is one of my largest accounts. We’ve worked with them for years. Parents either want an extra set of hands in the park and we go in the park with the parents, or maybe they want us to just go to the hotel room because they want to have an adult time in the park, or they want to go to Napa Rose. It’s a restaurant here and in the Disneyland area, and just tap out for four hours, have adult time. We cater to whatever the parents need us to do.
I think that families with children with special needs, they might be a little intimidated to travel with their children, and then end up in Disneyworld or whatever. We have staff that can accommodate those requests. So those families should know their kids can be taken care of by staff and people that have the experience. And those parents need a break. I think that section of the market is underserved.
What do you see in store for 2022?
I personally think that 2022 is going to be gangbusters. It is. I just know that what I saw from December 15 to January 2, the amount of work I turned down that I physically could not book because I didn’t have staff, it was staggering. And people were like, “I’ll throw money at it.” And I’m like, I don’t care how much money you have, I don’t have a staff.
What else do you want people to know?
Agencies and people, parents in general, assume that there are some standards in childcare. And there’s not, and I need them to clearly understand that. It’s not very well known that my service exists. And so to have the luxury to not drag a babysitter or nanny with you and pay all the expenses of that, or bring grandma or mom along on the trip, when you might not need them for the full duration of whatever you’re doing, it’s not necessary anymore. You can hire my agency, and eventually all of the offices will be open. But to know that you can show up in any one of our 10 destinations and have the same great quality is the biggest thing that I want to create for traveling families, that peace of mind we can give them knowing that their children are well taken care of.
What’s something surprising you’ve seen in your journey with the family travel industry?
I never foresaw when I started this business that, basically I’m a woman-run business. 98% of my sitters are women, and we sit for the moms and grandmas. Most of the childcare falls on the mommies in most traditional families, right? So when mom goes on vacation, she’s worried about who’s going to take care of their kids. For me, it’s full circle. I’m a woman-run business, helping women get to the next level in their professional careers. I mean, I’ve had sitters with me for 13 years that have never left, because they’re teachers and they’re off in the summer and stuff, but it’s like, they’re way overqualified, so you physically see the moms relax when they meet you. It’s women, for women, for women, and that was unforeseen, but I totally embrace it. I’ve had sitters become doctors, nurses, lawyers, international business, and I watched these women blossom into their careers, get married and have their own families. And that I never foresaw, but equally love as much as servicing the families that are on vacation.
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