It's a smart concept, connecting seniors with spare rooms with seniors who like to travel. But the University of Dublin administrator who came up with The Freebird Club – a new web-based social travel and home-stay club for the 50-plus crowd – says there more to his take on the sharing economy than a convenient online transaction. -- Philip Bane
In interviews about his new platform that connects traveling seniors with senior hosts, Peter Mangan said the idea came to him after seeing how invigorated his own father was after hosting guests through Airbnb.
As he told Fast Company, a lot of older people find themselves lonely and isolated, particularly in larger cities. And many like to travel, have the time to do it, but nobody to travel with.
They’re one side of his equation.
The other side: Seniors who may be asset rich, having paid off the mortgage on their homes, but are living on fixed incomes. Hosting travelers in their homes allows them to monetize their assets.
The Freebird Club website will bring the two groups together.
Why a club
Unlike Airbnb, The Freebird Club is for members only and requires people to pay a small fee to join.
Also unlike Airbnb, the hosts don't leave home when their guests arrive. The idea is to enable senior hosts and senior travelers to make connections and start new relationships. As Fast Company points out, with so many seniors living longer and more isolated lives, social connection can help them avoid the "epidemic of loneliness" that some are predicting.
"We really want to provide something that's fun and inspiring for older people," Mangan told Fast Company. "It provides a whole new way of traveling for them. Often they have the time, but nobody to do it with and they won't go alone. That's why it's a club and you can stay with other members."
Mangan's concept won a $55,000 prize in the European Commission's 2015 Social Innovation Competition. After pilots in London and County Kerry in Ireland, the club is slated to launch this month with a focus on the UK and Ireland. Mangan also sees potential in the U.S. market.
This article is from the Council's Compassionate Cities initiative which highlights how city leaders and other stakeholders can leverage smart technologies to end suffering in their communities and give all citizens a route out of poverty. Click the Compassionate Cities box on our registration page to receive our weekly newsletter.
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