Feature Article - November/December 2012

Travel Smart

Lightweight Maneuverability in Luggage & Travel Gear Takes Off

By Emily Tipping

When you travel often, you start to notice how the right piece of luggage can make all the difference. Maybe you notice the subtle ways the luggage you're toting could be better. Or maybe you're grateful for the features you hadn't given a second thought when purchasing that make it easier to maneuver your luggage in and out of airports, security lines, airplanes, luggage compartments and so forth. Things like lighter weights. Things like spinner wheels and comfortable handles. Things like extra pockets for stashing things as you peel away the layers before passing through security.

The fact of the matter is that luggage manufacturers pay close attention to all the nuanced ways we travel, and they are constantly updating gear to meet travelers' needs. In recent years, with the economic downturn forcing airlines to adopt a pay-to-pack approach, that has meant lighter and lighter weights, as well as expanded options in carry-on bags and much more.

This month, we talked to several experts who handle luggage and other travel goods for the incentive and reward market to find out the latest and upcoming trends, as well as the reasons you should not overlook this crucial category of merchandise when putting your program together.

"Business travelers identify with the luggage they carry," said Norma Jean Knollenberg, owner and CEO of Top Brands Inc. in Oshkosh, Wis. "As they travel, check into hotels, roll their luggage, they have a look and style of success. Similar to fashion, traveling with new luggage that is in style and fashionable makes the owners feel good about themselves."

This good feeling is something you can capitalize on when aiming to motivate and inspire your audience. Many people might have outdated luggage sitting in their closet, Knollenberg added. And they might not feel like they can spend their discretionary money to update to the latest and greatest. "To be able to select the latest trends in luggage as an awards choice is ideal and motivating," she explained.