By Chris Welsch
When Peter Mangan asked his father to help him manage Airbnb rentals in the cottage he had built in County Kerry, in the southwest of Ireland, he did not know it would be life-changing — for both him and his father.
His father, Owen, was a widower in his 70s, and was adjusting to life alone. Mangan, who lives in Dublin, said that it soon became apparent that, far from being an imposition, the extra work was bringing his father new friends and a sense of engagement. Owen found that he enjoyed playing host, especially with older guests — showing them around the area, taking them to the local pub, even playing a round of golf together.
“It became a new social outlet for him, a chance to meet new people and enjoy social interaction,” Mangan said. “It struck me quite emphatically that there’s a niche not being filled — and that there was an opportunity to create an innovative age-friendly model for social home-stays that could benefit and empower lots of older people.”
Mangan, who was working as a senior manager at University College Dublin at the time in 2014, said that his experience with his father inspired him to think about the broader population. “Right now the number is 900 million people aged over 60,” Mangan said. “By 2050 that number is going to be 2 billion. Society is ageing dramatically, and we’re going to see more of the problems that come with ageing.”
One of the problems that ageing people struggle with is loneliness. At the same time, many of these same people have spare bedrooms, and a need for extra income to support their retirement. Mangan asked himself: what if there were a way to bring together people of similar ages and shared interests to make travel easier, and life more enjoyable and potentially more financially comfortable in later life? “Literally in about 10 minutes I could see it all, the compelling need and what I wanted to create,” he said.