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Christchurch's hotel room inventory has dropped from about 3700 before the February 2011 earthquake to 850 now, New Zealand Hotel Council figures show.
Most motels carry no-vacancy signs, and the city has a severe shortage of rental properties. At the moment, demand is way outstripping supply.
Rotorua-based Look After Me expanded to Christchurch at the request of the Ellerslie International Flower Show last month and is staying for the rebuild.
It charges homeowners a yearly fee, listing their spare rooms on its website and handling bookings.
Owner Julia Charity, formerly of Christchurch, said it had just a handful of homes on its website now but would like 1000 within a year.
Charity described the concept as a virtual hotel, with the website acting as a reception desk and people everywhere providing rooms.
She said renting spare rooms could provide a supplementary income for people who had lost work since the quakes, and homes and hosts were thoroughly vetted.
"I think Christchurch is in a very unique situation to make the best of this," she said.
"We need to bring tourists back to the city.
"And for big employees, instead of just putting their new recruits into a hotel room, why not put them in a real house with real people?"
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