With airlines upping fees for checked-in luggage and travelers concerned about lost or delayed bags, travel agents are offering an extra service to make vacations hassle-free: arranging for luggage and sports equipment to be shipped to vacation destinations.
Luggage Forward, a 10-year old company that provides door-to-door shipping services, recently enhanced its travel agent program, allowing agents access to real-time client bookings and commissions, the opportunity for customized booking portals and a service to develop and track marketing campaigns. New features also allow travel agencies – including host agencies – to track and distribute commissions for individual travel agents and agency offices.
Since the company launched in 2004 it has paid 10% commission to agents who book door-to-door luggage delivery for their clients.
“The way we work with agents has evolved over time. We now have more sophisticated tools and new features to allow them to provide better service,” said Zeke Adkins, co-founder of Luggage Forward.
The company does not track how many of the company's 4,000 travel agents are home-based agents, but Adkins said he believes many home-based agents are among his clients.
“We have all kinds of agents who use our services,” he said. “They range all the way from Valerie Wilson [a large travel agency] to one-person, home-based shops.”
Much depends on the agent's clientele.
“The demographic that tends to find value in shipping luggage tends to be the demographic that uses agents,” Adkins said. “Typically, it's for a luxury leisure trip. And, the demographic tends to skew older. These are folks who are retired and have the time to take longer vacations that sometimes require multiple bags per person. For agents, it's an additional revenue stream.”
One of the new agent features is a custom co-branded agent “micro-website” on which travel agents can create a Luggage Forward booking portal with custom imagery, copy and logo. Clients can book directly on that site and the sale is credited to their agency.
Luggage Forward ships to more than 200 countries and territories and offers an on-time guarantee that provides full money back plus a $500-per-bag reimbursement for luggage that is lost or delayed. The cost of shipping luggage starts at $39 per bag for a domestic trip. Adkins said on average, travelers spend $250 per one-way shipment in the U.S., and that most clients use the service for multiple bags with three-day service.
“There's some real earning potential for agents depending on the budget of their clients,” he said.