A Day in My Life
Eine Art maß ge schneider te sA irbn bi st die Erfindung dieses irischen Unternehmers in Dublin. Von JOHN STANLEY
Meet an Irishman who started a special sort of Airbnb
My name is Peter Mangan, and I’m 47
years old. I’m the founder and CEO of The Freebird Club, a new peer-to-peer social travel and home-stay club for people over 50 years of age. While it’s often compared to Airbnb, the club is actually a social enterprise — a way of facilitating companionship and interaction between older people.
Based in Dublin, this is a global venture with about 3,500 members currently spread over 72 countries. In Germany, for example, we’ve about 120 members, mostly prospective travellers. Obviously, we’re keen to grow there and want to find more hosts in places like Berlin and Munich. We’ve big ambitions for the club, and although it is still at a very early stage, it is growing nicely.
I really wanted to start a movement, but I’ve found that to get a movement going these days, you really have to start a business. It all began when I built a house in County Kerry — where I’m originally from — and started letting out rooms. I was working and living in Dublin, and my father, a widower in his 70s, did most of the meeting and greeting of guests for me — and was clearly enjoying it.
When guests of a similar vintage to him started arriving, things went to a whole new level, though. He revelled in the opportunity to take them sightseeing, down to the pub, out to dinner — or even to play a game of golf. That set me thinking, and The Freebird Club was the result.
There are a lot of different jobs to be done each day by the small team behind the project. I start around 8 o’clock by browsing the newspapers to see what’s happening in the world. A lot of e-mails come in overnight, so I then spend an hour or two responding to them. I do this at home to avoid the city’s rush-hour traffic before going in to our offices.
We have people in marketing, business development, technology and customer service, and we all catch up with each other in the morning. We have a formal staff meeting every couple of days to go through particular agendas. There’s always customer service to be done, and we all do a bit of that in the morning. In the afternoon, there are usually meetings off-site for me. The way to make a start-up like this happen is to make connections, to develop potential for collaboration or to seize new PR and marketing opportunities.
So Freebird is not just about finding a nice place to stay. It’s about connecting with people with similar interests and who are willing to invite you to stay in their homes. We do basic security checks and provide support for members, allowing them to engage with each other safely and confidently. That makes it particularly valuable for people living alone, and it also generates extra income for host members who may be living on fixed incomes and have a spare room available. About 10 per cent of our members go on to become hosts.
Before heading home, I’ll go for a swim in the local swimming pool or out for a run, although my discipline isn’t as good now as it used to be in that regard. I don’t have a TV at home, and I’ll usually do more work in the evening. We have quite a few international collaborators and partners, so there’s often a Skype call with someone in a different time zone. Often, too, there are grant applications to be prepared or an article to be written for our member magazine, The Freebird Times. Finally, I’ll relax with a book for half an hour or so before I go to bed.
Recently there’s been a lot of travel, and increasingly there are conferences to attend. So my days are quite varied at the moment, but they’re always full.