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by Alex Palmer | March 20, 2012
A great piece of luggage combines both style and practicality, making it an excellent incentive reward, but also one that must be selected carefully. George Cassius, owner of incentive luggage company Earth Gear Corporation spoke with Incentive about what’s popular in this sector and what considerations should be made when choosing the best luggage reward.

Incentive magazine: What types of luggage are popular right now?

George Cassius: First let’s talk about materials. You used to have canvas or cotton nylon, but now it’s really the polycarbonate—something like if you’ve seen the bumper of a car, or helmet of a motorcycle. It’s lightweight and durable. Polycarbonates, with the hard shell, have grown immensely. 

It’s become a fashion statement and has led to some really colorful, unusual designs for luggage, which is what people are looking for these days. I have everything from leopard to zebra to crocodile patterns, and designers are getting involved. Romero Britto is a pop artist, an Andy Warhol-type of guy in South Beach Florida, and he took one of his art pieces and put it on the luggage.

But the downfall of polycarbonate is when you put product in there, it doesn’t give, so for that you can get a hybrid of polycarbonate and nylon. It allows you to put a little more in there.

IM: What are some other luggage elements besides material that are top-of-mind for recipients?

GC: Wheels. First we had two wheels, then four wheels, now you see double wheels for each, so you have eight for one piece of luggage—what we call “spinners.” It’s all about trying to make it easier to move the piece of luggage around. That’s been a huge innovation, allowing people to go up and down the aisle of an airplane in either direction.

Another major thing to consider is weight. In the past, you could pick up a 21-inch piece of luggage that weighed 20 pounds. Now ones that size have gotten down to four and a half pounds. If you are a pound over the weight limit, you are going to be charged $50-100, so making sure the luggage itself is not going to add weight is crucial.

I actually sell a miniature scale that can be attached to any piece of luggage. You lift it up and it tells you how much it weighs, so you can be sure you do not go over.

IM: One of these scales might also be a good item to give as a pre-trip gift or even in-room the final night. 

GC: Exactly—it’s not when you are leaving for a trip that’s a problem, but when you’re coming back and have bought a bunch of stuff that you need to weigh it. We can also customize them with your logo.

IM: What are some other ways that luggage works well in incentive programs?

GC: You can also give miniature travel kits. You can give a pouch that includes an eyeshade, earplugs, an inflatable pillow. We offer different types depending on the trip. For an international trip you can include the outlet adapter. The only travel we don’t cover is space travel.

Also think about using luggage in continuity programs. I can give you a 21-inch piece in black, then the next year give you a 25-inch, and the next year do something different.