At this moment, there are two (2) great reasons why I am crazy in love with The Freebird Club. (I suspect many more will be added through the years).
FIRST, and most obvious. This “social travel & home-stay club exclusively for the over 50s” set provides a place for older roamers to be part of a “genuine community of travelers , hosts & guests. What a wonderful way for mature ramblers to connect with new people, form new friendships, enjoy your hosts as well as your lodgings.
The Freebird Club adds an innovative new wrinkle to the Airbnb “sharing economy” accommodations model. Founder Pete Mangan – formerly an administrator at the University of Dublin – put the HOME into homestay experience. Social connection is a key part of the business model!
Background – – Pete had built a house on property in beautiful Killorglin, Co Kerry, just sitting there, empty, since he lived in Dublin. He rented it out through Airbnb, the income helping cover his mortgage while playing host proved a lovely bit of fun for his dad, who handled the meeting & greeting in his absence.
The son was delighted by the change his saw in his father, a widower of some years who lived alone, semi-retired from his veterinary practice. He enjoyed his father’s tales of taking older couples off to a pub, to the local sights & events, often over lunch or dinner.
As Pete, then serving as the University’s Senior Manager/Research & Development, read the reviews, particularly from older guests, it was clear what people remembered & treasured most were the good times & forever memories they made with his dad. Pete realized that what his dad provided went way past the Airbnb model. Voila! The Freebird Club was born!
As Pete explained, “We really want to provide something that’s fun and inspiring for older people. 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. We really want to provide something that’s fun and inspiring for older people. It provides a whole new way of traveling for them.”
Here’s how it works: Unlike Airbnb, The Freebird Club is “peer-to-peer,” with travelers staying with their fellow members in a spare room. You MUST be a member to book. Plunk down a one-time membership fee (under $50), pass the vetting process, & you’re in! The nominal fee covers the approval process AND helps ensure that only people committed to the Freebird travel philosophy join, nurturing a sense of belonging, trust & security. Although they have a smattering of offerings in the USA yet, Pete hopes to find a lot of potential welcoming hosts among the Irish diaspora here in America.
The Freebird Club’s digital magazine sets my heart racing – its pieces are well written, beyond simply interesting to truly mind expanding. It is a visual expression of what Pete Mangan holds dear, which goes way past simply offering older travelers with affordable lodgings with welcoming hosts. In fact, there is nothing simple at all in what Pete seeks to achieve with The Freebird Club. Which brings us to the…
SECOND reason I love The Freebird Club… Yes, it offers value, community & great times. But it offers more, much more. And THAT goes straight to my heart, is what I love to pieces about Pete Mangan, why he is one of my heroes.
Because of his close relationship with his father & a professional life that spans a spectrum of interests: finance, the arts, university research and – let’s not forget! – innovation, Pete realized that the homestay experience he envisioned could do far more than provide accommodations. It could help reduce, even eliminate, some heart-wrenching social problems.
Pete, with the heart of a true social entrepreneur, aims to reduce the growing sense of loneliness & isolation that enshrouds many older people. He also knows from his family friends community that while many mature adults are asset-rich – their home paid off, no mortgages to pay – most live on some form of fixed income. By offering a spare bedroom in their home to paying guests, they can monetize that asset!
Thanks to The Freebird Club, mature adults no longer have to feel their wings have been clipped by financial restraints (accommodations are considerably more affordable than traditional lodging) or a lack of traveling companions (all hosts greet their guests & are available for connection), while home owners can enrich their lives as well as their bank account.
Pete Mangan, inspired by his dad, Owen, has infused community into travel, for which I thank him.
Confession: I am quietly freaking out here. It was just around this time last Thursday that I met & spoke with Tom Kamber, when I started looking at Cyber Access for the Technically Timid (CATT) as something that could make a serious difference alleviating loneliness & isolation -and- provide a good income to the people spinning socializing into social networking. Now, tonight am introduced to Pete Mangan, who sounds so much like Tom in his connection to helping people LIVE LIVE LIVE. Between the two, my plans for CATT have been set on their ear, leaving me a bit breathless with shock, amazement & – I admit it – a twinge of fear.
About to sign up for our Freebird Club membership. How lovely to know we have a fairly affordable option if we want to plan a late stay at a Radical Age Movement or Senior Planet event. Let’s see…. In Brooklyn, Harlem or…?
The Freebird Club – an idea whose time has so clearly come!!