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Marketing With Luggage Tags

November 9th, 2012 . by Steve Cousino

A few years ago, Carnival Cruise Lines made a rather large splash in the travel industry by moving entirely to e-documents for their cruise passengers.  Further, their cruise luggage tags were now part of the e-docs.  Reading the instructions on the page, one was to fold the page this way and that, wrap it around the handle of the luggage, and tape or staple it to hold it in place.

Travel professionals all over reacted negatively on behalf of their clients – while undoubtedly saving the cruise line millions of dollars in printing and mailing costs, the move was seen as tacky.  No longer would clients receive a nice set of documents with customized luggage tags, helping to enhance the pre-departure excitement felt as the day of a cruise drew near.  And who travels with a roll of tape or a stapler?  Why would the cruise line choose to subject their guests to such cheapness?

Regardless of how you personally see the situation, the fact remains that e-documentation and e-luggage tags are “the way” as more and more travel vendors, cruise and land operators alike, move to e-docs to lower operating expenses.  I feel this provides us, the independent travel professional, with a terrific opportunity to provide value to our clients by providing them with luggage tags for their vacations.

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Since e-document luggage tags are simply folded pieces of paper, all that is needed is a plastic pouch that can contain the folded luggage tag, with a strap to attach it to the luggage itself.  Many companies have sprung up over the last couple of years to provide these pouches, customized to fit the various sized luggage tags issued by the cruise lines.  The cost per luggage tag, especially on a bulk order, is quite reasonable and makes an excellent value-add for the client that they sincerely appreciate, and even better – it’s the type of gift that keeps on giving!

You can obtain plastic luggage tag holders from a number of companies – the top two for the travel industry seem to be Cruisetags.ca (www.cruisetags.ca) and Favors By Serendipity (www.favorsbyserendipity.com) though other companies exist that offer their own style of luggage tag holders.  These providers not only offer the holders, they provide customization of the tags for a nominal fee, allowing you to brand the luggage tags with your agency information.  They have proved to be immensely popular with the clients of many travel professionals – in fact, my own clients who receive my luggage tag holders always comment on them and how nice they look on the luggage.  Another common remark is how often OTHER travelers notice the luggage tags!

But, for those who don’t want to, or can’t afford to, get customized luggage tag holders there is a solution.  What I do is order printed address labels from my printer, customized with my agency logo and the information I want on the luggage tag, and I affix them to each luggage tag before I send them to the client.  It’s a definite cost savings, and it doesn’t look like a cheap do-it-yourself job.

The cruise lines eliminated their cost in providing luggage tags to their guests, which opened up the door for us to provide that value-add – it’s done wonders for my repeat business. If you haven’t begun offering luggage tag holders to your clients, I strongly recommend you at least consider it!

Steve Cousino, ACC, CTA, LS is a six-year industry veteran and owner of Exclusive Events At Sea and Journeys By Steve with specializations in group cruising, individual ocean & river cruising, and personalized experiences in Europe, especially the British Isles. He can be reached at steve@journeysbysteve.com.

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Join the Discussion - Post your comment  4 Responses to “Marketing With Luggage Tags”

  1. Suraj Zutshi, CTC, CTIE Says:

    Sounds more like a plug for cruise tags than an article to me.
    Not only did the cruise lines save on printing and mailing, they transfered those costs to us as, in most cases, we end up printing page after page for OUR clients. And the mysterious ‘non commissionables’ keep going up each time we make a booking! What gives?
    By the way, we started giving out luggage tag holders two years ago; and gifting a bottle of wine when in the office since the $24 wine on board can be purchased for $6 at your local liquor store(and you support a local business!). However with commissions under a $100 often, not sure how long we can keep giving it away for mass market cruises.

  2. Steve Cousino Says:

    My article serves to show one marketing idea that has worked for me and many others. The focus isn’t to plug the luggage tag vendors – they were not contacted about this article.

    As far as transferring the cost of printing and etc. to the agencies – yes, they’ve done that. It’s up to the individual agencies to either absorb that cost or develop a way to pass it along to the client. Those are really the only two choices available. Myself, I absorb the cost but I also charge my clients a retainer – others provide the printing option for a fee to cover the costs, otherwise they’ll deliver e-documents.

    Thanks for your comments!

  3. Connie Sims Says:

    Totally agree, Steve. We also make up the luggage tags for our clients. They love them! Since we buy the supplies in bulk, the cost per client is minimal. Printing the e-docs are not a big deal either since they really only need 1 page. We make certain that they have access to the rest of the information by emailing that. Most are happy to know that they do not need to carry all that extra paper with them.

  4. Richard Phelps Says:

    We used to produce very nice looking luggage tags for a cruise line owned by Carnival. We’ve seen it change over the last few years and, as you describe, for some ships it has gone to where the agent or passenger is printing the tags. If not for the plastic holders you described, there’s no way the tag will stay with the luggage as a simple piece of paper stapled or taped together.
    Agents are responding in a pro-customer mode and that’s commendable. Nevertheless, something has been lost by the simplification, almost dumbing down, of the the previous four color process printed tag. So much of what we touch is becoming more and more a commodity.

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