On the Road Again
We've all had to do it. Let's face it, the promotional industry is one that clocks many, many miles. We are true road warriors. With every security check point passage and every mile traversed, little tricks and lessons are learned that will surely make the next journey easier. Probably one of the first lessons learned is having the right travel bag and business bag. They are the biggest weapons in the road warrior's arsenal. Not only do they make getting through airports, train stations, parking lots and hotels infinitely easier, the style of the bags also creates a perception of just who the professional carrying them is.
The Ideal Incentive
Mike Landry, director of special markets, TUMI, available through industry supplier Indigo, Mount Prospect, Ill., explained the landscape of the travel marketplace. "In the promotional products channel, smart distributors have learned that there is a market for upscale travel goods and business cases with any customer of theirs that has a 'road warrior' culture," he said. Bureau of Transportation Statistics show that more than two-thirds of those who travel for business are professionals in management and sales positions. "Sales managers love gifting and incentivizing their sales forces with something that they will use in the course of their day-to-day business," said Landry. "This drives a lot of our business in our business case segment."
What else is of the utmost importance to the road warrior? An appropriate place to stash the iPad, smartphone, earbuds, WIFI card, and legacy classics like documents, padfolios, folders, pens, etc. "The trend is definitely to design items which support features that functionally allow you to travel with your personal electronics," noted Scott Pearson, vice president, merchandise, Sweda Company LLC, City of Industry, Calif.
Cash In with Carry-Ons
In the not-so-distant past, airlines discovered they could charge weary travelers yet another fee, that pesky up-charge just for checking a bag. Since then, one item has become the dominate in travel bags: the carry-on. "Since the airlines have begun the widespread practice of charging for checked bags, frequent travelers know that to get everything that they need into a bag that they can carry on the aircraft is to save anywhere from $25 to $150 depending on the size and weight of the checked bag. The financially pressed airline industry has discovered this untapped revenue stream with no incremental costs attached to it and a little publicized IRS ruling in January of 2010 made this classification of revenue exempt from federal taxes," explained Landry.
As for the style of carry-on bags, Pearson noted, "The popular styles are those that are minimal and simple in design, yet strong in feature and function." Simplicity is key, and it seems the list of advantages to traveling with one simple carry-on is long. Selling into this market, these advantages are useful to have on hand when talking to potential clients. Landry noted a few of these as advantages: carry-on bags increase convenience when changing planes (key during the winter storm season), they save a great deal of time on the arrival end, no long waits in baggage, and They prevent your bag being lost or ending up in a far-off land because the bag is with you.
While travel and business bags are available in just about every imaginable coloration, when it comes to color trends within this niche, there is nothing like the classics. "Although bright fun colors are the initial pull to the product visually, over 60 percent of sales remain on black or neutral colors," said Pearson.
Landry concurred. "Basic black will always rule the day in the upscale segment. As much as people want to talk about picking their bag off the conveyor at their destination airport, black sells," he said. Landry also noted that distributors should keep in mind why black makes sense. "Luggage, both carry-on and checked is subject to an extremely dirty environment," he said. "Let's face it, the 'back half' of any airport is one part warehouse, one part distribution center and one part machine shop. There's enough dirt and oily substances to stain any bag that passes through and black will disguise that better than any color."