Feature Article - November/December 2019

Bon Voyage!

Get Them Moving With Luggage Incentives

By Emily Tipping

A strong economy in 2018 led to growth in the U.S. travel goods market last year, with American consumers buying more and paying more. This is according to a report from the Travel Goods Association (TGA), which also found that the threat and imposition of punitive tariffs on U.S. travel goods imports hampered that growth.

And it's no wonder American consumers bought more travel goods, as travel to and within the United States grew 3.2% year-over-year from July 2018 to July 2019, though international inbound travel to the country has fallen, according to the U.S. Travel Association's Travel Trends Index.

"The solid performance of the domestic leisure and business segments—which together account for 86% of the travel economy in the U.S.—have kept the travel expansion on track through the first seven months of 2019 and have acted as a bulwark against the stagnant state of international inbound travel," said U.S. Travel Senior Vice President of Research David Huether.

So, what does all this mean for you as you plan incentives, rewards and recognition? It means that your audience is likely to be traveling at some point in the next year, and if you and your brand and company are associated with making that travel smoother, you will reap the benefits.

Why should you consider luggage?

"I think the appeal of the category stems from its relationship with travel," said Mike Landry, vice president, Special Markets, Tumi. "And especially for the white-collar road warrior, a prestige bag tends to really lend itself to incentive and reward programs. When you're driving down the highway, you look at makes of cars. When you're traveling, the brand you're carrying on your shoulder is equivalent to the brand of car you drive. It's about prestige—an external sign that you've made it."

According to George Cassius, president of Earth Gear Corp., luggage makes an ideal item in any kind of program due to its high perceived value and universal appeal. He adds that luggage is often associated with fun and leisure, and adds that it is an excellent choice for continuity programs.

Easy Travel

Carry-on bags are still dominating the market, Landry said. "Nobody wants to check a bag because it makes you less flexible and can cost money. There's a theory among frequent flyers that the airline can't lose what they don't have. So, the action in the channel is in the carry-on size, and that really lends itself to the white-collar road-warrior type that we service."

In addition, weight is a big deal, Landry said, with manufacturers "carving out every ounce that they possibly can." This trend lends itself to hardsided luggage, which can be made lighter than soft-sided. "They tend to be a little less functional on the inside—there might not be as many pockets or as much functionality, but the consumer has spoken, and they want a lighter weight," he added.

In the world of carry-on baggage, look for features that maximize packing space while minimizing the hassle of navigating the airport, with added conveniences like the ability to charge smart phones on the go.

For travelers looking for a soft, supple and incredibly lightweight carry-on that doesn't compromise on packing space and performance, Briggs & Riley's Rhapsody Tall Carry-On Spinner is the end of the search. Coordinate with any soft piece from the Rhapsody collection for the ultimate travel solution. Briggs & Riley Travelware backs its high-quality luggage with a comprehensive warranty that even covers damage caused by an airline.

For tech-enabled traveling, the 19-inch Expandable Spinner from Samsonite's Mobile Solution Collection, available in navy blue or black, features superior functionality in timeless, lightweight styles. Features include nylon twill fabric with vinyl trim and water-resistant coating; a front zippered pocket perfect for storing smaller items with an integrated USB port that provides easy connection to USB accessories; a patent-pending wireless charging pocket in the middle exterior pocket designed to fit your wireless battery and phone for effortless charging on the go; expansion of 1.2 inches designated by a unique zipper pull for extra packing capacity; and a fully featured interior with two side storage pockets, Smart Fix Buckles™ and removable 3-1-1-friendly pouch. Dual spinner wheels make it easier to get from here to there, and a retractable ID tag discreetly located on the back of the bag provides private information needed for bag identification or retrieval.

Skyway's new Eastlake Collection, available through Incentive Concepts, offers modern convenience. With Skyway-heritage details and modern appeal, the handsome Eastlake collection is ideal for business or family travels. This lightweight, smooth-rolling carry-on offers comfortable handling, multiple pockets on the inside and out, as well as compression straps to keep packed items in place.

For those who are more style-minded, the incredible Logan Leather Overnight Bag by Frye, available through Rymax, is a fashionable traveler's dream. Top carry handles or a removable, adjustable strap make this functional piece extra comfortable. Featuring protective metal feet and antique brass hardware, the Logan Overnight Bag is durable and classic. It meets most airline carry-on size requirements so you can travel stress-free.