Product innovations which succeed the most quickly are those which solve genuine pain points. Anyone who travels frequently is only too familiar with the pains of travel: overweight luggage fees, cramped airplane seating, running around an airport frantically searching for your terminal while pulling a suitcase that weighs half as much as you. Both occasional and frequent travelers are actively looking for ways to make travel simpler and stress-free, presenting the perfect entry point for a fast-growing number of smart luggage products and travel goods.
Flying is a pain – and fliers already know it
Some products have to prove a pain point exists – travelers, especially fliers, already know it. Most U.S. travelers – 58%, according to a SITA passenger survey prefer to plan flights carefully in advance and not leave anything to chance. These are the fliers and commuters who pack early and check luggage weight at home, who want to avoid “any negative parts of their journey”. The flier who packs and repacks their luggage until the weight and size are just right is exactly the consumer looking for solutions to relieve them of travel stress.
Smart luggage solves major pain points in travel
Furthermore, lost or delayed luggage is the single largest stress trigger during travel. According to a Travizon survey, more than 1 in 4 travelers said lost luggage caused them “serious anxiety” during travel. (Talk about the specific smart feature that helps them with this…) 31% said ‘no lost baggage’ was what made them happiest on a business flight. Take another study: 79% of the 4,500-plus business travelers in a Booking.com survey pointed to luggage loss as a major pain point.
Travel goods manufacturers have noticed that pain. One product currently being funded on Kickstarter includes GPS tracking, as well as USB charging capabilities and a built-in scale. Another smart suitcase by Bluesmart includes weight sensors and a USB charging port, as well as an automatic locking mechanism and a smart app. While Bluesmart currently retails at around $500, the market needs less expensive solutions before smart luggage becomes a norm. Raden, a suitcase that recently launched, costs only $295 and provides some of the same functions as Bluesmart, including Bluetooth used when hotspots are unavailable.
While these smart luggage solutions cover the gamut of price and features, there has yet to be one smart product that transforms the luggage scene to set a new standard.
Travelers already utilizing technology to make travel easier
One reason the market is primed for that new ‘smart travel’ standard is today’s dependency on technology. The SITA survey points to 18% of travelers who actively look for advancements in travel technology to make their trip easier. This ‘hyper-connected’ group are already actively looking for ways to control their travel experience through technology – online check-ins, tablet use, and “travel process automation”. There is also a strong correlation between frequency of travel and technology use. A Travizon business survey shows that nearly half of travelers with the greatest travel frequency – one to five times a week – prefer to make business travel arrangements online. These are the consumers who are ready to purchase and appreciate a smart luggage solution with an accompanying app.
Take a smart application or app, for example. A connected app solves multiple travel pain points. Fully 52% of fliers surveyed by Travizon listed real-time flight information as the most useful feature a travel app could have. A smart app could serve multiple functions in connection with the luggage itself, such as comparing luggage weight with airport weight allowances, but it could also send automatic updates and alerts regarding flight changes. The Radar smart bag wipes out another pain point by alerting owners via their smartphones before the bag comes down the carousel.
Smart luggage solutions like these are disrupting the luggage and travel goods industries and are paving the way for new standards of ease and simplicity during travel.
Luggage manufacturers see high returns on smart travel products
While it’s clear that consumers want smarter travel solutions, the data shows that companies are already seeing ROI for their smart travel products. Bluesmart collected $2.5 million in revenue just from presales. The luggage market as a whole hit $14 billion in revenue this year and saw an annual growth rate of 2.9% from 2011 to 2016. With revenue from luggage projected to reach $43.4 billion by 2020, the potential business value of smart luggage solutions is vast as the demand for it.
Whether judging by consumer’s interest, solutions to pain points, or the track record of existing products, it’s clear that smart luggage is rolling ahead. Consumers are clamoring for smart luggage that relieves the pain from flying and travel; luggage manufacturers are beginning to notice. It will be interesting to see if they develop products in time to prevent a monopoly by companies which are quicker on the uptake.