PeopleWill Travel. And We’ll Help Them.
It’s September 11, as I’m writing this column. Nineteen years to the day the world changed, and our industry was thrown into crisis as travel volume took a nose dive. Airlines virtually ground to a halt. People were afraid to fly, and when they did take to the skies, they bristled at the new security procedures.
But travel must go on. And when people began venturing out, we were there to ease the way with items like ID holders, document organizers, suitcases with built-in seats, removeable computer sleeves and foot covers to reduce anxiety and speed travelers safely through security.
After the 3-1-1 rule was instituted, we were the ones to step up with properly sized sub-100 ml containers and durable see-through quart-size bags to save travelers from leaky improvised containers and ziplock bags that weren’t up to the task.
When TSA began streamlining security and allowing laptops to stay inside checkpoint-friendly bags, we helped develop the standard and equipped the public.
After the bottom fell out of the financial market in 2008, and airlines began their still-ongoing game of add-on charges and baggage fees, we helped enable carry-on travel with smarter, better cabin luggage and ever-lighter bags that helped travelers dodge overweight penalties.
Every time people shift travel modes, we make travel better for them. When change is forced upon us, it’s travel goods designers, manufacturers and retailers who help smooth the way forward. And you could argue that the industry has benefited in the long run, developing new product categories that have not only changed how people travel, but given them reasons to shop for new travel items.
Travel in the near future is going to be different. It already is. People are reluctant to crowd onto public transit. Airline volume is down, rail travel is suffering and cruising is non-existent. But car travel is largely unaffected – AAA’s prognosis for summer car trips this year showed a reduction of less than 4% – and we’ve seen a corresponding shift in the types of travel goods that were moving this summer.
Traveling by car you can traverse the country within your own bubble of glass and steel, in an environment you control – which is absolutely compelling right now. But who’s to say what form travel will take in the post-pandemic era?
I can’t even venture to guess. But I do know we’ll be ready to help people adapt. We’ll have the goods to streamline their travel. It’s what we do. It’s what we’ve always done. And we’ll do it again.