Often described as ‘travel Tinder’ for the over 50s, The Freebird Club wants to start a seniors movement and become the world leader in social travel for the over 50s market. ThinkBusiness spoke with founder Peter Mangan.
How long have you been up and running?
I have been working on developing The Freebird Club for over two years. However for the first year or so I was still in a full-time job in UCD, so it was a case of moonlighting evenings and weekends – developing the business plan, prototyping and conducting a pilot project. Once we completed a successful live pilot, it was time to leave the day job and embark on this full-time.
“It makes no sense to me that there are so many of our elders struggling with loneliness and isolation. We want to do something about that.”
Where did the idea come from?
It was inspired by my Dad. I have a holiday home in my native Kerry, which I rent out on various accommodation websites. My father (who is a widower and semi-retired) was doing a lot of the meeting and greeting on my behalf, as I was based in Dublin. This was a positive and enjoyable experience for him, meeting new people. However, when some older guests came to stay, the level of social interaction was significantly greater. He would take them to the local pub or sightseeing; they might have dinner together or perhaps a game of golf. This all happened very naturally. Not only did he get great enjoyment from this, but the reviews from these ‘senior guests’ were exceptional, mentioning this social interaction as a highlight of their trip. In a rapidly ageing society, where the prevalence of loneliness and isolation among older adults is well known, it struck me that the new peer-to-peer ‘sharing economy’, and the Airbnb led boom