The novelty in luggage: leave it at home


The one-hour sandals service is just one glimpse of a much bigger trend that is changing the way some people travel: without luggage, ordering their clothes and accessories to wait for them at their destination, or shipping them in advance. .

“The world is getting so much more convenient for everything,” said Lee Sheehan, director of sales and marketing for 24 North – who, of course, wears sandals. “You can order anything on demand, right at your doorstep. Why not that? “

Many other trends have converged to create this one, besides this expectation of convenience in the age of easy online ordering and same day delivery.

First of all, getting luggage through security and fighting for space in the overhead compartments is getting harder and harder. The cost of checking bags increases in a seemingly inverse proportion to the time it takes to somersault on the conveyor belt on the other end of the trip. Meanwhile, the cost of sending them in advance is decreasing, thanks to the increased capacity of shipping services powered by Amazon and others.

Some people prefer not to bring or ship their things at all. If they are traveling from one climate to another, they can now ask someone to keep their wardrobe when they get there, or borrow them from one of the premium clothing rental services, from more and more, who find a niche by partnering with hotels. . Instagram encourages them to wear unique fashion – specific to their destinations – to show off to their friends. And being on vacation is like being allowed to dress in a way that people never could at home.

The result, said Sheehan, in the morning stillness of the lobby at 24 North, “People pack less and acquire their vacation style once they get to where they’re going. “

Even if they don’t plan on doing so, one in six travelers forgets to pack something and one in 10 forgets shoes or clothing, according to a survey by Minimus, a New Hampshire company specializing in food. sale in travel format. some products.

Hilton is adding Amazon lockers at some of its hotels for customers to pick up orders. And an entire industry has capitalized on the awkwardness of traveling with children by renting car seats and strollers at destinations across the country.

The Weekapaug Inn in Rhode Island, which encourages all-season nature walks around its two salt ponds, maintains a “borrowed closet” of Hunter boots and waterproof outerwear so people don’t have to. to carry these bulky items with them. “These are the things that are the hardest to pack,” said Mark Bullinger, who was Weekapaug’s in-house naturalist when the benefit was added. “We try to make the trip to the hostel really easy and seamless.”

W Hotels has partnered with Rent the Runway, which allows guests to take turns ordering four rooms that are unpacked and hung in their rooms upon arrival. The service is female-only (Rent the Runway also offers children’s clothing) and is being piloted in Aspen, Hollywood, South Beach, and Washington DC; it starts at $ 69 per stay and includes a selection of “destination-curated” modes, tailored to each location. Customers can drop off their items at the checkout.

Started as a rental service for special occasions, the company found that people had their clothes delivered for weddings and other events to hotels so they didn’t have to wear them, said Anushka Salinas, director of the operation of Rent the Runway.

“We’ve seen people do it before, even before we have a partnership” with W, Salinas said. “People are so used to delivery to their doorstep. It’s the ultimate convenience and luxury of being able to travel with just a handbag and not having to drag luggage and bite your nails to wait to see if there’s room in the overhead compartment. .

Other companies are even trying to outdo this, offering same-day hotel delivery of destination-specific clothing for travelers to rent or buy. At select Miami Beach and Waikiki hotels, guests were asked to browse and purchase designer swim and resort wear and accessories to be delivered the same day.

People who plan to wear their clothes more than on vacation are shipping them more and more in advance. The cost of picking up and delivering luggage has been steadily falling, even as the cost of checking them – now $ 35 a bag on JetBlue, for example – is increasing. Passengers collectively spent more than $ 5.8 billion in air baggage fees in 2019, reports the U.S. Department of Transportation. (The figure fell to $ 2.8 billion last year, but only because travel declined so much during the pandemic.)

“Consumers are starting to recognize that there are other alternatives and that checked baggage is no longer a monopoly for airlines,” said Tim Derdanger, associate professor of marketing at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie University. Mellon.

The average shipping price for golf clubs, for example, has dropped from $ 99 to $ 59 since the ShipSticks company started shipping in 2011. ShipSticks acquired LuggageFree last year, which typically charges for shipping. shipment of a conventional bag are $ 50 and drop; Since prices are based on distance and speed, and most people aren’t in a rush to wash their dirty clothes at the end of their vacation, they can send them home more slowly and inexpensively.

But it’s not just a question of price, said Nicholas Coleman, CEO of ShipSticks and LuggageFree.

“Think about the level of anxiety people feel when traveling, going to baggage claim and asking, ‘Is my bag coming? We are in an on-demand world and people want things when they want them. They are looking for frictionless experiences.

Jon Marcus can be contacted at [email protected]


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