Feature Article - November/December 2018

Happy Trails!

Luggage Incentives for Your On-the-Go Superstars

By Emily Tipping

The economy is in good shape, with unemployment hitting record lows, and as a result, we're all traveling a little more. In fact, travel to and within the United States had seen 104 straight months of growth as of August, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Looking ahead, domestic travel for business and pleasure is expected to grow 2.6 percent through 2019.

Supporting all of that moving to and fro, the travel goods market has also been performing well, with sales of travel goods hitting $31.3 billion in 2017, according to the Travel Goods Association.

What does all of this mean for your incentives and rewards programs?

If you're not including the latest in luggage and other travel goods as an option, you might be missing out.

When it comes to consumers of travel goods, said TGA President Michele Marini Pittenger, price was a big factor in their choices in 2017. "Consumers, however," she added, "were just as driven by improvements in the overall economy and changing fashion trends."

From hardsided luggage to "smart" travel goods, from stylish handbags to uber-functional backpacks, knowing what's available and what's trending in the market is key to rewarding your program participants who have their eye on the proverbial road.

Fees, Fees & More Fees

Air travelers have been moving toward carry-on bags for some time now, in an attempt to avoid the extra fees for checking their luggage. But now, there's a new twist on the scenario.

"A lot of the airlines are charging for not just checked but for carry-on luggage," said George Cassius, president, Earth Gear Corporation, "so the big move is toward under-the-seat luggage. Most companies now offer under-the-seat luggage."

The Spinner Underseater from Samsonite fits under most airline seats and has four multidirectional spinner wheels for easy mobility. Incorporating the "smart" trend, it also features an integrated charging port that allows for easy access to personal portable chargers. Other features include interior mesh organization pockets, laptop and tablet sleeve; exterior zippered pocket with organizational panel for quick stash and organization for smaller items; additional exterior pocket for quick stash items; and a smart sleeve that allows the bag to be placed over the handle of most upright luggage pieces. It's available in Black, Ocean and Purple.

Get Tough

There's no doubt that the fees are making it more expensive to travel, leading travelers to look for ways to avoid as many of those fees as possible.

The other trend that's been on the rise for the past few years is hardside luggage.

"Hardside keeps on going up," Cassius said. "Hardside is where it's at."

Why? Cassius said security is one big reason. It's harder for thieves to get into a hardside bag, but in addition, they are more hard-wearing, and with advances in technology, have become much more lightweight.

In fact, according to research from Grand View Research Inc., while soft-side bags continued to account for the largest share of revenues as of 2016, hard-side bags are witnessing a much faster rate of growth.

"The key features of this type of bag, including lightweight and high-strength construction, better security against thefts and maximum packing space, are expected to have positive impacts," the report states.

As a result of the growth in this area of the market, the options have expanded impressively, giving you plenty of choices to offer your program participants.

From Incentive Concepts, the Briggs & Riley Sympatico Carry-On Expandable Spinner is now available in the perfect size for U.S. travel. CX™ technology meets hardside luggage for the first time in this piece, letting you expand for 22 percent more space and then compress back to the original size. It coordinates perfectly with a soft Sympatico companion piece, and Briggs & Riley backs its high-quality luggage and business case collections with an impressive warranty that even covers damage caused by an airline.

The Maxporter II 31-inch Large Checked Polycarbonate Trunk Spinner Luggage, available through Earth Gear, features an anti-theft zipper, built-in TSA lock, split compartment, interior adjustable shelves, T-Cruiser ergonomic handle, Cyclone spherical wheels and an add-a-bag strap for toting an extra bag. It's available in Black and Navy.

The Samsonite 20-Inch Spinner Carry-On features a thinner and stronger framing system, which means no more tradeoffs between weight and protection, as well as more packing capacity. The low-profile TSA-approved lock ensures lasting durability and security, while one-handed entry makes retrieving items easy and fast. A scratch-resistant carbon fiber texture and minimalist, lighter componentry are more than just sleek—they offer even more packable space, reduced weight and protection. The interior features a fully zipped divider curtain with a wet pocket and separate organizational pocket. Available in Dark Grey, Ice Blue and Cordovan.