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PRODUCTS AND IDEAS THAT INSPIRE PERFORMANCE

Premium Incentive Products Magazine - Products and Ideas That Inspire Performance

Travel Smart

Advances in Luggage & Travel Goods Make Adventure Easy

What's your perfect getaway? A weekend by the ocean? A cabin in the mountains? Taking in a few shows and sights in the big city? A retreat to the woods?

Everyone's preferences, when it comes to travel, are unique. But one thing is universal: We all need a place to stow our stuff. And that's one of the things that makes luggage and other travel goods such a powerful motivator and reward. It has universal appeal, and it's closely connected with our favorite adventures. Even better if you reward your program participants with the newest, most trendy travel gear. With continuing advances in technology and creative new features, modern luggage makes it simple to get from point A to point B, having fun all along the way.

"Travel goods are a fun category because when an award winner is gifted a new piece or set of luggage, it immediately evokes that wanderlust that resides in many of us," said Chad Glamann, marketing manager for Top Brands Inc. "It's hard not to think of that vacation spot you've been planning to see or simply visiting family and friends when selecting that next piece of luggage."

"Whether for business or pleasure, travelers demand quality luggage that is durable, lightweight and stylish," said Andy Hudson, marketing manager for Incentive Concepts. "Over the years, we have found that most travelers typically ignore luggage in their usual shopping habits. But, when presented with an opportunity to upgrade their luggage through a corporate gifting or other incentive program, luggage ranks as one of the most popular redemption categories. With this in mind, luggage can be one of the most effective categories to reward employees, customers and partners."

Travel goods are a fun category because when an award winner is gifted a new piece or set of luggage, it immediately evokes that wanderlust that resides in many of us.

What's more, like your choice in destinations, your choice in the gear you use to pack what you need is reflective of your personality.

Luggage, said Allyson Krichman, senior director of product sales for Rymax Marketing Services Inc., is similar to handbags, in that it's "… fashionable and functional at the same time." She added, "It's a representation of yourself and your personality. There's lots of options and it's always about the functionality, ease of life, ease of use and comfortability. It's all about personal preference and style."

Smarter and Smarter

When it comes to the latest trends, George Cassius, president of Earth Gear Corporation, said it's all about one thing: "Smart luggage, smart luggage, smart luggage." His company works with multiple options in smart luggage, featuring everything from location trackers and remote locks to digital scales, battery chargers and more—all smart features designed to ease travel, whether it's knowing how much your bag weighs before you go over the limit, or simply knowing where your bag is.

"I think the latest and greatest is all about the functionality," Krichman said. "With us having such a diverse portfolio, we have brought in some great Smart options. For example, Raden has a USB charger in the actual luggage, as well as a built-in scale."

You can see the future of travel with the A28 Single Case from Raden, available through Rymax Marketing Services Inc. As the lightest Smart suitcase on the market, this sleek yet spacious suitcase is made with a durable polycarbonate shell that only weighs 13 pounds. The A28 is carefully designed to help travelers reach their destination confidently and effortlessly. It is equipped with two built-in USB ports to charge handheld devices and laptops, so there's no need to crowd around airport charging stations. It also includes a TSA-approved built-in lock, a built-in scale so travelers can avoid paying overweight baggage fees, proximity sensors, a waterproof seal and 360-degree maneuverability.

Brighter, Lighter & Tougher

It's hard not to think of that vacation spot you've been planning to see or simply visiting family and friends when selecting that next piece of luggage.

Asked about the latest trends in luggage, Scott Whitehead, director of Special Markets for Samsonite LLC, said, "We are seeing a move to hardside luggage vs. the traditional softside. Four-wheel spinners is also becoming the norm in both carry-on and checked bag. There is also a big move to underseaters becoming popular with travelers." In addition, he said that while black continues to be a best seller, other colors, including blue, orange and purple, are trending.

"There is such a breadth of color options available now for travelers that it's easier than ever to find that look that fits your own personal taste," Glamann said. "Touch and feel still play an important factor when selecting luggage, and the best options here are expanding as well, with new lightweight materials, like Plenium, which can be found on the Delsey Bastille Lite collection."

"We continue to see the predominance of hardsided luggage," said Mike Landry, vice president of special markets for Tumi Inc. "Hardsided started in the Pacific Rim and to a lesser extent Europe about six or seven years ago, and it has gained in prominence in North America for two reasons. First, there's a perception that a hardside bag will protect the traveler's stuff. But second, and the biggest driver by far, is the weight factor. In real estate, everything is location, location, location. In luggage, it's lightness, lightness, lightness. …It's a huge factor, and something the market is demanding. Tumi can make a hardsided bag significantly lighter than a more traditional, framed ballistic nylon bag."

"Luggage companies seem to always be competing for the latest innovations, but the three most significant trends seem to be: expansion, durability and TSA-compatible design," Hudson said. "For example, Briggs & Riley's Transcend VX Collection features a variable expansion system that allows for easily customizable packing capacity. The Ocean Drive collection by Ricardo Beverly Hills includes a durable polycarbonate outer shell, protective corner guards and a lightweight internal frame."

Make a memorable first impression with the sophisticated Ricardo Beverly Hills Ocean Drive 21-Inch Spinner Carry-On in Sandstone, available through Incentive Concepts. Equally appropriate for business or pleasure, it's packed with storage features that deliver smart organization without compromising its generous capacity. The tough Makrolon polycarbonate construction resists dings and abrasions. A TSA-compliant combination lock protects your valuables. Sturdy, smooth-motion wheels, an ergonomic handle and extra-grippy top and side handles deliver effortless maneuverability along concourses and in and out of overhead bins.

The farther you go, the more stamps on your passport, the better your story. Your Tumi 19 Degree luggage is part of that story. Exceptionally striking up close or from a distance, the super-durable Aluminum International Carry-On in Silver boasts a modern silhouette with fluid-looking, strategically contoured angles. Ideally designed for short, overnight trips and travel within Europe and other international destinations.

The Hartmann Century Softside Carry-On Expandable Spinner, available through Samsonite, is constructed in durable polyester, with a lightweight honeycomb frame, virgin aluminum trolley system and ball-bearing wheels. Interior are accented with the heritage Ducord stripe, and the padded, tri-fold suiter is built into the case, folding nearly for travel.

Cassius agreed that hardsided luggage is trending. But he also added that colors are still expanding. "You still have black, navy and burgundy," he said, "but in addition to that, now they talk about jewel tones—rose gold, ruby and emerald. Those are new and upcoming colors."

In addition, he said, the size of carry-ons may change, as airlines get stricter about what is and isn't allowed, and begin charging fliers for carrying on a bag as well as checking one.

"Right now, the 21-inch is the carry-on size," Cassius said. "But size is a big deal, with airlines now charging you to bring a carry-on onto the plane…" and with possible future limitations on the size allowed for carry-ons.

Available through Earth Gear, the Ciao Voyager Hard-Side Spinner Luggage Set features a 20-inch suitcase, 24-inch suitcase and 28-inch suitcase, all with smooth-rolling spinner wheels. These suitcases' spinner wheels pivot a full 360 degrees, so the cases roll smoothly and stay stable even as you're rushing to catch a flight or using them as props in your figure-skating routine. ABS plastic exteriors protect your belongings from the inevitable abuse of air travel, shrugging off scratches and impacts to keep your clothes as neat as when you packed them.

You'll fret about dents and damage no more with the impact-resistant Crash trolley case that doubles as an eye-catching piece of modern art, available through Stark Enterprises Inc. Each Crash collection includes a set of three pieces: Large, Medium and Cabin. The lines are ranging from the Pioneer collection with a selection of eight colors to the Bright collection, which includes a choice for four stunning metallics.

And for a pop of color and style in a different sort of case, check out the Vera Bradley 22-Inch Roll Along Duffel Travel Bag, available through Top Brands, and shown in the newest pattern, Paisley Petals. Whether for a vacation or a weekend getaway, this wheeled duffel will help you pack it all in perfect style. Interior pockets keep your cosmetics and accessories sorted, while the exterior pocket keeps boarding passes, reading material or snacks close by. It features grab-and-go handles in addition to a telescoping top handle, one exterior zip pocket, interior with one zip pocket and two elastic mesh pockets, luggage ID window and lock.

More and More Choices

Sometimes you just want a classic, and Tumi elevates your travel and business experience with its Alpha 2, the pinnacle of Tumi's design innovation, engineering, functionality and performance. For European journeys and beyond, this exceptional international carry-on features an innovative front lid, which allows you the freedom to separate specific items from others, opening for quick and immediate access to your travel items. This convenient, compact wheeled case is designed to meet the carry-on size requirements for travel within Europe and Asia. It's also perfectly suitable for one- to two-day domestic trips.

When you want to incorporate your logo or other artwork, the innovative Earth Gear Hardside Carry-on Foto bag allows you to bring your product to life. They take your high-resolution art file and create a vibrant insert that resides inside the clear front shell so your branding remains protected from the rigors of travel. With superior spinner wheels, polycarbonate shell and smooth telescoping handle, this luggage provides unrivaled brand exposure and ease of use.

At a capacity of 55 liters, the Red Rock Traveler Duffle Pack, available through Top Brands, is large enough to be used as luggage. It is made of 600D polyester and the zippered, collapsible dividers sectionalize the main compartment. It features two internal soft-lined pockets, three reinforced carry handles, one removable over-the-shoulder strap, two stowable padded backpack straps with sternum strap, and is clad with MOLLE webbing for customizability with pouches and attachments.

The luxurious Ghurka Examiner Briefcase, available through Rymax, has been a go-to style for more than 30 years. Made with Calfskin leather construction and brass hardware, it features double top handles with 7-inch drop, adjustable shoulder strap with 23-inch drop and top zip closure. Interior features include organizational pockets and a laptop compartment, and exterior features include two flap pockets with tab closures and a rear open pocket.

"Backpacks are a big thing right now," Krichman said. "It's hands-free, so if you're doing a million things, it makes it easier. It comes down to: no matter where you are and what you're doing and where you're going, you're on the go."

Outfitted with serious hardware and versatile storage options, the Oakley Kitchen Sink Backpack, available through Links Unlimited, is a complete package with heavy-duty appeal. Whether taking a day trip or extended excursion, specialized pockets inside and out organize items while abrasion-resistant fabric keeps them safe, including shoes and most 17-inch laptops. Equipped with a hard media-player compartment and reinforced clip and zip closures, the Kitchen Sink Backpack blends toughness, style and diverse function ideal for the unpredictable day.

The Triple Play Flap Top backpack, available through Premium Bag, has a larger volume capacity and modern styling with a storage-focused design. The rustic look comes from the durable gray exterior material and straps, which have tuck lock closures for convenience. The wide mouth opening with drawstring offers a generous carrying capacity that includes an interior padded laptop sleeve, and front storage pocket for quick access. It features adjustable, padded shoulder straps, and a top handle for easy carrying.

The Oakley Link Backpack, available through Links Unlimited, is designed to be as lightweight as possible while still providing you spacious, specialized storage for electronics and equipment when you're on the move. Built with compartments for your laptop, shades, shoes and much more, this premium Oakley backpack integrates reflective webbing throughout, increasing visibility.

Luggage has always been an effective and popular gift.

"Luggage has always been an effective and popular gift," Whitehead concluded. "Recipients select items that they perceive as high value and don't want to spend their own money."



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