Feature Article - November/December 2015

Moving Right Along

New Innovations in Luggage & Travel Goods

By Emily Tipping

“We believe that luggage tells a story about the person holding it, and we are offering customers a chance to depend on us throughout their journey with well-made, honest luggage," said Bill Duncan, director of sales for Ricardo Beverly Hills. "Travel goods and luggage add value to the travelers' overall experience, and they act as a medium to help them achieve their goals. Therefore, many customers take the time to find the perfect luggage, knowing it will become a part of their life. Our goal is to offer them the ultimate travel experience—experience that is memorable, inspiring and meaningful."

The universally appealing category of luggage and travel goods provides a huge range of offerings that can cater to anyone's needs. From road warriors who want the latest innovations to adventurers who want a sturdy backpack and more, there are hundreds of ways to experience the world through travel—and hundreds of ways to ease that travel with merchandise that fits every need and desire.

This universal appeal and connection to travel and adventure makes luggage a worthy reward. But the benefits of this category are myriad. Its high perceived value means luggage will always make an effective and highly valuable incentive option, according to George Cassius, president of Earth Gear Corporation. What's more, he added, "When I take out my luggage, I usually think of happy times, like vacations."

Luggage continues to rank high as a powerful reward and incentive option, well suited for a wide variety of programs. And with continual innovation among manufacturers, there's always something new to offer.

Get Connected

With the growing interconnectedness of, well, everything, it should come as no surprise that technology is finding its way into travel gear and luggage, with new and creative ways to smooth the process of getting through the airport and to your destination.

According to Mike Landry, vice president of special markets for Tumi, one area that is seeing the impact of changing technology is business cases, which are getting smaller. "It's all about the iPad," he said. "The traveling public, male or female, is now less apt to take the big ball-and-chain laptop out and is more apt to just travel with an iPad. That's driven the bulk size of the business cases down, particularly in thickness."

Cassius discussed new developments in "smart luggage," with features like built-in digital scales, hot spots, battery chargers for handheld devices and more. "I think you'll be seeing more and more of this, and there are road warriors out there who will really love it," he said.

Another consistent trend over the past several years, hardsided luggage is becoming far more prevalent in the United States than it once was.

"Technology is starting to break ground in the travel industry, making traveling much easier for frequent travelers," Duncan added. "Added features such as GPS tracking with your smartphone, remote lock/unlock function, built-in digital scale or built-in battery chargers for your mobile device are some of the latest smart features that are gaining traction."

Whether it's built into the luggage, or featured in an accessory, interconnectedness is making things easier on travelers. Cassius cited luggage tags with RFID as an example. "When you check in at the airport, they give you the scan card," he said. "When the bag comes off the airplane, that gets activated, and an RFID signal is activated to tell which carousel the bag should go to. This luggage tag with RFID lights up then, so you'd see it flashing on the conveyor."

Landry said that Tumi is also building RFID protection into more of its bags. "It's a method to prevent bag guys from scanning your cards or passport from a distance," he explained. "In Tumi, when you see a red label or stitching or tab, that means the bag is RFID-protected."