Airbnb For Seniors Lets The Elderly Make Social Connections
Online service lets people over 55 rent a spare room from other seniors in order to travel
As you’ve probably heard, millennials are all about the sharing economy. They like to reduce their impact on the environment and split services in order to make them more affordable. Uber and Airbnb are the perfect examples of businesses that are booming thanks to this youthful mindset, but the young are not the only ones to benefit. In fact, a new business is seeking to take an Airbnb approach to business by connecting seniors with spare rooms on an online group called the Freebird Club. The Freebird Club is a business that got its start in Ireland where Peter Mangan, the founder, and a group of his cohorts ran the numbers and discovered that seniors aged 55 and older were far more likely to participate on sharing platforms than the rest of the population. As a result, they came up with their own group just for the elderly.
The website is very much like Airbnb in nature, since its main goal is to connect seniors who love to travel, explore, and experience new things with spare rooms that allow them to go on adventures on their sparse budget. It’s like Airbnb, but there are a few small differences.
For starters, you have to pay a small fee to be a member, whereas Airbnb is a free service for anyone. Members are then able to choose between being a guest or being a host before they begin their travels. The only requirements are that you be 55 years of age or older and be interested in social connections and great conversation.
Mangan, as an administrator at the University of Dublin, has worked with his fair share of age ranges. He came up with the idea for this project when his father offered a room on Airbnb and said that it was an amazing experience for an elderly man at home by himself.
“There are two issues we’re trying to address,” Mangan told Co-Exist. “One is loneliness and isolation in the elderly population. A lot of people are finding themselves quite isolated particularly in the larger cities. The other is that a lot of people are quite asset-rich—maybe they have a mortgage-free house—but they’re reliant on a [fixed income]. This is a way to monetize their assets.
“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.”
Right now, things have only begun in Ireland and the U.K., but just like Airbnb has reached nearly 200 countries, Mangan is hopeful that his business will do the same. He’s mainly focusing on promoting the site through senior organizations and related events, but it’s only a matter of time before the service reaches the United States.
This service could prove highly lucrative for both the founders and those who benefit from the service. We’re still in the stages of baby boomers growing old, which means there are a lot of elderly people around looking for companionships and connections.
Science is behind this new idea, since studies show that social connection helps to stave off mental illnesses and other sicknesses the elderly are likely to experience. Those without family and friends nearby to help them as they age will be able to seek companionship and support through some very difficult times.
Seniors hiking in nature via Shutterstock