Peer-to-peer social travel and homestay club for older adults – connecting senior explorers and enriching lives through meaningful travel.
The Freebird Club is a new travel-based social network for older adults. It will operate as a peer-to-peer social travel and homestay club which offers a whole new way of travelling for older adults, a means to unlock some of the asset value of their homes and earn an income, and a fun and accessible way to meet new people and enjoy social and cultural interaction in later life.
The ageing of society is a global phenomenon due to increased human longevity and falling birth rates. Globally the number and % of older persons (60+) is growing dramatically – from 840m in 2013 to an expected 2 billion by 2050. This throws up a number of societal challenges, 3 of which we address:
- Loneliness & isolation among older adults – one of the biggest issues facing the elderly today, carrying significant health risks such as coronary heart disease & stroke according to latest research
- Financial insecurity in later life – many struggle post retirement with inadequate pensions
- Lack of travel options for older people – research indicates many seniors would like to travel more but either lack companionship or the confidence to do it alone
The Freebird Club offers a solution to these issues by providing a customised “age-friendly”web platform to enable older adults engage in peer-to-peer homestays and vacations with fellow older adults through an online membership club. This follows the host/guest model, whereby ‘hosts’ make their spare rooms available to fellow members to come and stay for a nightly rate. Thus they can unlock some of the asset value of their homes and generate an income in later life. Unlike Airbnb et al, Freebird visits always involve staying with the host while they are in situ, as this concept focuses as much on the sharing of company as the accommodation. By creatively combining elements of a travel site (eg. Airbnb) and a companionship site (eg. Match.com), using age-accessible co-design, we facilitate people matching with people based on shared interests and compatibility, rather than just finding a nice place to stay.
ACHIEVED TO DATE
The web platform has been developed, a live pilot between Ireland & UK has been completed, we have just won the European Social Innovation Competition, and we are ready to launch this summer.
We will focus initially on Ireland & the UK, where we have already developed strategic relationships and market awareness. We will quickly look to expand our reach throughout Europe, the US & beyond. We will do this by leveraging strategic relationships with key international stakeholders and partners, notably organisations that promote positive ageing and have an interest in the well-being of older adults. We have a special interest in connecting senior diaspora with their peers “back home”.
The founding team of Peter Mangan (CEO) and Nga-Hong Lau (CTO) bring significant experience, expertise and passion to the project. While both working in University College Dublin (Peter in Research Management; Nga-Hong in User Experience/Web Design), they came together over a shared interest in solving social problems associated with the ageing population. The team has recently expanded to include several bright young UCD interns as well as some wise older hands to steady the ship.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
By voting for us and/or pledging financial support, you will be directly helping our business to grow and reach its potential for positive social impact. We are not only interested in the ‘sharing economy’, we want to be part of a new ‘caring economy’; which prioritises positive social impact as much as economic returns. Please support us in our mission, to connect and enrich the lives of older adults near and far.