Hotels offering luggage service?

With the recent news that Spirit airlines will start charging for carryon bags, it seems clear that the entire charging-for-luggage theme is really just the airline industry trying to make itself profitable again. It was obvious to anyone that charging for carry-ons first would have resulted in no revenue, so they started where the money was – in the bigger bags. Charging for carry-ons is more offensive, but with cheapskates avoiding the checked-bag fees crowding the bins providing a nice scape goat…

The airlines will be happy when the day comes when no one thinks it unusual that you can’t bring your stuff for free. But are airlines really the best custodian’s of our stuff? One has to keep in mind that shipping people and shipping goods are two entirely different businesses.

Suppose that hotels offered a luggage service. It would look like this:

  • You book a room, and the hotel asks where to pick up your bags.
  • They pick up your bags the day before you leave – maybe just the morning of that day. They drop off a complimentary ‘personal items’ bag, with some coupons in it for your destination (ad space the hotel sold, by the way) and room for personal items.
  • You fly to your destination, maybe multiple hops, but “you don’t care because your bags will be there”.
  • You get to your room and your bags are waiting when you get there.
  • You enjoy your stay, having lived in fresh clothes sans washing miracle fabrics in the bathroom sink, or laundry charges that would buy a German luxury car.
  • When your trip is over either the next hotel is coming to get it, or it will be shipped back home.

They have a lot of incentive to get it right because your stay with them depends on your luggage being there. You will pay for this because of this, and because hotels, unlike airlines, have not established themselves as professional losers of luggage.

I don’t think it will happen because hotels have refused any responsibility for their customer’s belongings for too long to be able to see the opportunity. They also make a lot of money on laundry, I’m guessing.

If someone created the business that did the picking up & shipping, and provided the inter-hotel transportation (we do travel on multi-hop trips after all) they could make this happen.

The advantages for the customer:

  • No more hauling heavy bags – no more need to live in a carry-on world either.
  • No airline fees.
  • Less hassle with security.
  • You could have a separate bag for each hop, providing more flexibility and choice.
  • Now when you check out in the morning, you not only don’t have to take your bag with you on your site-seeing, you don’t have to come back for it either.
  • If your travel plans are disrupted, you can change flights without fear of losing your bags.
  • For an extra fee you buy insurance in the form of a pre-paid credit card, which gets dropped off with your bags, to be remotely activated in the event your luggage is lost or delayed.

Yes, it would be a tough business to implement, but far from impossible.

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