Feature Article - November/December 2016

Get Going!

Motivate Top Performers With Luggage & Travel Goods

By Emily Tipping

When it comes to trends in travel goods these days, the name of the game is convenience. Whether it's easing passage through the airport with luggage scales that keep you in-the-know before you get charged for an overweight bag and spinner wheels and lighter weights that make it easier to maneuver, or simplifying every other aspect of travel with built-in chargers so you don't have to fight for an outlet and hardsided cases that protect your gear, the latest features and functions are all about easing the headaches of travel.

George Cassius, president of Earth Gear Corp., in Brooklyn, N.Y., which offers a variety of luggage and travel-related accessories to the incentive market, said that the segment is growing, citing a study from the Travel Goods Association that shows luggage sales up 94.2 percent in the United States from 2003 to 2015, and adds that "convenience" is what drives most of the developments in the industry. He called out a number of updates and existing features, from smart luggage that incorporates scales, tracking devices and charging capabilities to lighter weights and easier-moving wheels as examples.

When you add the latest luggage and travel gear to your incentive program, you will be bound to please both savvy travelers and those who tend to stay close to home. Luxury brands that allow seasoned travelers to upgrade their style, nested sets that expand a family's packing options, smart gear that lets your sales force charge on-the-go—the myriad options combine to create strong appeal. As such, they are an essential piece of your incentive merchandise mix.

"Travel goods and luggage continue to show strong sales within premium incentive programs," said Kenneth Fishman, director of purchasing for Rymax Marketing Services Inc., in Pine Brook, N.J. "The more you travel, the quicker your luggage is bound to wear out. By offering excellent quality luggage brands like Victorinox, Tumi and Hartmann as redeemable rewards, individuals will look to upgrade their travel goods without overspending at the store."

"Integrated weight indicators that are built right into the bag are a nice touch to make sure the traveler doesn't incur any surprise overweight charges," said Chad Glamann, marketing manager for Top Brands Inc. in Oshkosh, Wis. "Nothing beats a well-crafted carry-on that features TSA-friendly tech compartments, an increased capacity and smooth-rolling wheels that can make the difference between a trip to remember or a nightmare you want to forget."

Travel goods and luggage continue to show strong sales within premium incentive programs.

Fishman echoed that sentiment: "Traveling can be a joy or pain," he said, "and the luggage you use to tote your stuff determines that outcome. While manufacturers are continuously making advancements in materials and design, suitcases haven't changed as much. But luggage is finally getting smarter, and the options for connected suitcases and other related gadgets is growing. Not only are luggage manufacturers continuously striving to produce lighter choices while maintaining product durability, but they have developed built-in scales, GPS trackers and mobile apps that can make your traveling experience less harrowing."

"Professionals are looking for luggage pieces that are not only functional, but are also stylish and refined," Glamann said. "Travel goods will always be in demand in any incentive program because everybody in the professional world travels, either for business or leisure or both. Luggage is one of those categories that is always evolving, with lighter and lighter materials being used and innovative new features being added all the time. With all of these new developments comes the demand from award-winners to always want the newest and hottest pieces on the market."

Get Smart

Cassius also called out smart luggage as a new and exciting trend. Earth Gear offers a 21-inch Travelpro bag that allows you to insert your own battery that can then provide power to charge up your devices.

"That way, when you're traveling, instead of fighting everybody at the airport, you can just plug right in," he said. "I don't have to depend on the availability of an outlet because if I take my luggage, I can charge my phone."

But charging isn't the only "smart" feature, he said. "Everything is built in," Cassius added. "You don't have to look for anything. This piece has everything built into it: location tracking, remote lock, digital scale—all of this is built in."

Available through Earth Gear, the Travelpro Crew 11 21-inch Expandable Spinner is wired for travelers on the go. With an external USB port that allows you to connect any USB device to the Power Bank that is stored in a dedicated pocket, this carry-on also comes well-equipped with multiple patented features. These include MagnaTrac self-aligning spinner wheels, the contour grip and the PowerScope extension handle. Made of a rugged, fashionably textured ballistic nylon fabric with leather carry handles, Crew is offered in Black and Indigo and is backed by a limited lifetime warranty.