Our Story

Look After Me - Our People - Our Story - Founder Julia Anne - alternative to Look After Me - NZ's accommodation network

Every business starts with an idea for how to better serve customers in a dynamic market place.

However a new business typically needs a lot of support and encouragement - and only about 4% survive the hurley-burley of the first 10 years. 

We are grateful to our loyal staff, volunteers, customers and investors for financial and in-kind support throughout the years. You have come from communities all over New Zealand and have helped build this business. 

By sharing your knowledge in Tourism, Hospitality, Software, Commerce, Science and Humanities, together we have created the Look After Me Story and been innovatively progressive. 

Thank you for sharing the ups and downs with us - these moments are forever woven into our memories.

This is Our Story...

Look After Me was founded by award-winning tourism entrepreneur, kiwi Mum and creative writer, Dr. Julia Anne. 

Julia is the current Managing Director and launched Look After Me in 2011, ahead of the Rugby World Cup.

At that time, over 200,000 people were coming to New Zealand and accommodation was expensive and difficult to find.

Julia decided to build a distributed yet local, accommodation network, managed using cloud-based software.

Look After Me was designed to look after small groups (1 - 6 guests) making them feel welcome and safe, while travelling around New Zealand. 

In 2021, in response to Covid-19 and people looking for safe, clean, well managed accommodation in self-contained units, cabins, holiday houses and bed and breakfasts, they upgraded to become the World's First Virtual Hotel. 

Virtual Hotel offers accommodation all over New Zealand in self-contained units and holiday houses.

Julia isn't sure why this story came out in rhyme. Click the links to view featured Press articles, videos and blogs.

"They said I was crazy and maybe it’s true,Former Scion scientist Dr Julia Charity based in Rotorua - Now Founder and Entrepreneur of Look After Me - New Zealand's on line peer-to-peer market place

To start my own business, in an Industry new.

A scientist I was, genes were my thing

But one day I had, a bolt from the blue….

To launch a new network, of homes with good cheer

A haven for travellers, with hosts who will care.

With hosts who will care – it’s not just a bed,

A place to find kinship and rest for your head.Look After Me - New Zealand's best Hospitality and online accommodation market place. Look After Me - Events and Accommodation Network - Alternative to AirBnB in New Zealand

 

What should I call it? I pondered and schemed…

A name that was worthy, for all of my dreams?

I thought about what it was destined to be

And after much musing, called it ‘Look After Me’.Look After Me - Events and Accommodation Network - Alternative to AirBnB in New Zealand

 

It’s Look After Me’, cos that’s how you’ll feel

Staying in places with people, so real.

So I chucked in my job and chanced it to luck

launched it in time, for the Rugby World CupJulia Charity launched Look After Me - an accommodation network for New Zealand at the Rugby World Cup in 2011. Seen here at the Rotorua Museum World cup road show. Look After Me - Events and Accommodation Network - Alternative to AirBnB in New Zealand

                   [in 2011, that is….]

 

I sold up my house, did whatever it took

Put everything I had, into making it work.

It wasn’t easy, starting from scratch,Basking in the sunlight on the New Zealand cycle Trails - accommodation by Look After Me  - Events and Accommodation Network - Alternative to AirBnB in New Zealand

I was brave, I was fearless, with no safety hatch.

Within six months, I had my first crash and burn

Just one of the lessons, entrepreneurs learn.

See my website was built, by a white-collared crook

The platform unstable, too dodgy to book.

 

So I called up my Mum, some friends and a man,Work Placement team with Waiariki students working at Look After Me to relaunch the website on our first birthday  Look After Me - Events and Accommodation Network - Alternative to AirBnB in New Zealand

Please lend me the money, this time I’ll plan.

They invested and backed me to rebuild on-line,

Then I called up some students to relaunch on time.

Our new look was aqua, not teal or light blue

Our logo was a hammock girl, christened ‘Ahu

With a life of its own, we started to growLook After Me - Events and Accommodation Network - Alternative to AirBnB in New Zealand

A network of homes with people who know

How to look after, where standards are met,

A network of places, where it’s not just a bed.

 

We supported the cycle trails, nearly all 23,Go cycling on the Rotorua Cycle Trail - stay with Look After Me providing accommodation on this trail and many other Cycle Trails around New Zealand. Look After Me - Events and Accommodation Network - Alternative to AirBnB in New Zealand

We popped up with events, and in every city.

We won some awards, big ones and small,

We made global history by hosting them all.

I’m proud of this network, its people, its places.

I’m humbled by the pride, in my shareholder’s faces.

You see we are kiwis, we’re the best on this planet

Manaaki (hospitality) - for us, it’s a habit.New Zealanders are the most hospitable in the world - No 1 in how they treat tourists. Photo shows Maori hongi (pressing noses) - symbol of welcome to New Zealand  Look After Me - Events and Accommodation Network - Alternative to AirBnB in New Zealand

 

I moved to Dunedin to follow my beau

It was a wonderful city for our network to grow.

Our Digital hotel opened when Ed Sheeran hit town,

Hosts in Dunedin, all Sheeran’ around.

Great Write Inn Co-Founders Toni Gordon, Eleanor Girvan and Julia Anne - Black Ink wiiter's group Dunedin

I joined a writers group – we’re called Black Ink

We went on retreat and it got me to think…

They are my tribe – we are birds of a feather

And I wondered how we could bring others together?

Like-minded folk, creating something?

Great Write Inn writer's festival dunedin rotorua wellington by Look After Me events and accommodation - alternative to airbnbThat was the seed for our Great Write Inn (now selling! :))

 

Now we do events, where learning is fun

A room, a character and object become

created and plotted -  write if you dare  

A short-story, you pen and be proud to share. 

 

[Info 2021 Edwardian Era Great Write Inn at Olveston Historic Home]

  

But in 2020, a new threat came along,

We needed to figure out how to stay strong.

Covid-19 with it's pandemic wave,

A time to dig deep, our business to save.

NZ in lockdown; to stop it spreading about

Where 'staying in' became the new 'going out'.

Events all post-poned, hosts closing their doors

With people dying, we all braced for more.

 

Economic crises, tourism in peril,

Our only hope was to keep everything sterile.

Would NZ's tourism ever recover?

Easter Sunday 2020 - Look After Me launches upgrade - alternative to AirBnB New ZealandWhat is it we can help our people discover?

On Easter Sunday, a day of hope,

We hatched a new plan, to help kiwis cope.

Look After Me - Homestay Network Accommodation New Zealand - alternative to AirBnB NZWe're a network of rooms, all self-contained,

Clean, comfy, safe, beautifully maintained.

 

Maybe you wondered, what happened to the man?

I realised I loved him and asked for his hand.

He still walks beside me, he’s the beat of my drum

Supports me with Alice, to be the best kind of Mum.

So this is our story, it’s humble, you’ve heard

Julia Anne Charity and Phillip Wilcox - shareholders Look After Me Events and Accommodation - alternative to AirBnB New ZealandYou’d be welcome to join us, or just spread the word.

They said I was crazy, and it's probably true

But call us, when you want us, to ‘Look After You.’ "

 Dr Julia Anne 

 Founder, Managing Director & Poet.

Digital Hotel opens in Dunedin - supporting Look After Me accommodation and events company. Alternative to AirBnB

Alice Charity (foreground) Shareholder of Look After Me celebrates the launch of the Digital Hotel in Dunedin in 2018, Background: Founder and Managing Director of Look After Me, and Alice's Mum, Dr Julia Anne, her partner (and Shareholder) Phillip Wilcox and his daughter Rawinia. Julia gifted 1% of her company to her 12 year Alice in 2018 as a sign of the Company's Committment to New Zealand's youth, who will always need safe, clean, comfortable places to stay.