BOSTON, MA—Guests flying to a hotel are likely bringing luggage along with them. For business travelers, it may be a small carry-on bag and a garment bag. For a family of four, it could be, depending on the length of stay, four large suitcases and a few carry-ons. With most major airlines charging bag fees, hundreds of dollars are tacked on the cost of travel. Then, there’s the possibility of the airline losing the luggage. According to the 2019 “Baggage IT Insights” report from SITA, a specialist in air transport communications and information technology, 24.8 million of the 4.27 billion pieces of luggage checked at airports worldwide in 2018 were mishandled.
A third issue has arisen during the COVID-19 crisis. Checking baggage at the airport presents social-distancing complications on the check-in line and at baggage claim. Luggage shipping service LugLess recently surveyed more than 500 adults in the U.S. and found that almost 20% of them would be more likely to fly if they didn’t have to check their bags, as it would allow them to avoid major contact points at the airport like baggage claim.
LugLess, based here after being acquired by premium luggage delivery firm Luggage Forward, tries to solve all of these problems by offering low-cost, door-to-door shipping through carriers such as FedEx and UPS.
“In 2018, LugLess was relaunched with a new low-cost model that introduced the first cost-competitive replacement to checking a bag with an airline. Our rates start as low as $15 to ship a bag within the U.S.,” said Aaron Kirley, president of LugLess, which launched in 2009 and appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank in 2013 (it didn’t make a deal). “We also provide travelers a faster and safer way to get through the airport by reducing contact points and crowding at baggage claim by removing their baggage from the airport and flying experience.”
Only available in the U.S., LugLess offers delivery to any residential or business address, including every hotel. “Any guest can utilize LugLess to ship luggage, golf clubs, skis and more to and from their hotel, with or without us having an agreement with a hotel,” said Kirley. “The scale of our shipping operation gives us significant purchasing power when it comes to shipping rates. We are able to offer rates that are usually lower than if a user went directly to FedEx or UPS.”
Hotels can also become a LugLess partner at no cost. “We offer a revenue-share program to generate ancillary revenue for each hotel,” Kirley noted. “We provide a cobranding booking page and trackable link that hotels can provide to their guests for prestay and during-stay communications.”
The process for guests to use LugLess is relatively simple, according to Kirley. “It takes about three minutes and is very similar to how you book a flight,” he explained. First, guests input their origin address and delivery address, date(s) of travel and bag size/quantity, then choose from multiple service options, which range in price and speed of shipment. They may select additional options such as a doorstep pickup, additional insurance, customer support or on-time guarantee options.
The LugLess algorithm finds and compares the lowest UPS and FedEx rates. “This means that every shipment is backed by the reliability of these carriers, and users can also leverage these network retail locations for our popular hold-for-pickup service that we offer our Airbnb and short-vacation-rental guests,” Kirley said. Once the carrier is selected and payment is made via credit card, shipping labels will be available to print and attach to the luggage.
When guests are ready to check out of their hotel, they can print their return labels, affix them to the luggage and leave it with the front desk or wherever FedEx and UPS picks up packages for the property. “If the hotel does not have a daily pickup, the guest would either drop off at a nearby FedEx or UPS store or opt in for our pickup service from the hotel,” said Kirley, who pointed out that his company’s revenue comes from “value-added service bundle options [at a cost]from added phone support to extra insurance and on-time guarantees for customers that want a higher level of service when utilizing LugLess.”
Just like the airlines with luggage, FedEx and UPS are not immune to lost packages. “In the rare case that FedEx or UPS loses a shipment, we have a very simple process to file a claim,” Kirley noted. “We also provide customers the ability to purchase extra insurance for further peace of mind. If you trust Amazon to deliver all your packages—they leverage FedEx and UPS as well—then you can expect that LugLess will provide the same level of reliable service for your luggage.”
Kirley pointed out that LugLess is in development with several hotel guest tech platforms, including Uniguest and Runtriz, to offer its services through their thousands of hotel partners in the U.S.
While he couldn’t go into details about future LugLess innovations, the executive said, “If you live off your smartphone, we are making shipping luggage as simple as placing an Amazon order or booking a ride with a Lyft or Uber. COVID-19 delayed this product launch but as our demand continues to rise despite air travel still being down, we want to make traveling without baggage as safe and touchless as possible.” HB