Digital hotel site seeks rooms in Dunedin houses

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Seeking beds in Dunedin homes . . . Look After Me Digital Hotel managing director Dr Julia Charity is launching a "Sharin' for Sheeran" campaign in the city. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

A Dunedin entrepreneur is launching a campaign to increase the city’s accommodation capacity for major concerts and sporting events by giving homeowners a slice of the action.

Dr Julia Charity, a scientist, entrepreneur and recent arrival in the city, is launching a “Sharin’ for Sheeran” campaign, creating a digital hotel under the umbrella of her nationwide Look After Me accommodation network.

Having an inventory of at least 1000 rooms in local homes, which could be used during busy periods, would be beneficial both for Dunedin people and visitors alike, she said.

“So, come on Dunedin, let’s get sharin’ for Sheeran. Let’s do good for Ed.”

A pioneer of the “sharing economy” in New Zealand, Dr Charity founded the Look After Me network in 2011, before the Rugby World Cup.

Since then, the digital hotel network has hosted more than 9000 guest-nights across New Zealand, typically in high-quality furnished rooms, where guests are looked after by home-owners.

“A digital hotel does the same job, without using a physical building,” Dr Charity said.

With the city set to host three Ed Sheeran concerts over Easter – attracting a predicted 60,000 visitors, and 150,000 music fans coming to Forsyth Barr Stadium over a six-month period, it seemed the perfect time to launch the network in Dunedin, Dr Charity said.

Dunedin Venues Management Ltd (DVML) marketing and communications manager Kim Barnes said it would be the busiest period for concerts since the venue opened in 2011.

Previous concerts showed that about 58% of concert-goers came from outside of Dunedin, which could equate to an estimated 87,000 guests in Dunedin this summer.

Dunedin i-Site manager Louise van de Vlierd said the centre was continuing to assist with accommodation inquiries for Ed Sheeran concert-goers.

“As one of the newer Dunedin-based businesses offering alternative accommodation during this period, Look After Me will be a welcome addition to the existing pool of providers,” Ms van de Vlierd said.

Dr Charity said she had nearly 300 people on her waiting list looking for accommodation.

Look After Me has just soft-launched the digital platform, www.staydunedin.com, especially for music fans coming to Dunedin this summer. The site is undergoing beta testing now.

Initially, Dr Charity is looking for 400 Dunedin homeowners willing to host guests, and says she is “quite fussy” about ensuring rooms meet a high standard.

“It is a digital hotel – so we can pop up as many rooms as we think we need.

Dr Charity hopes the idea is well received, and urges homeowners to get in touch if they can offer accommodation.

For information, visit www.staydunedin.com or www.lookafterme.co.nz