A new luggage courier service backed by some well known industry faces is promising to allow agents to undercut low cost carriers.
Luggage Mule is the latest firm to offer customers the chance to send their bags separately to their holiday destination and so avoid spiralling baggage fees levied by airlines.
But it is the first to emerge from the travel industry itself and claims its strategy to work through agents and embed booking within their existing systems will ensure it succeeds.
Among the backers are Ian Brooks, Pure Genie managing director and Antony Martin, director of Rock Insurance. Jordan Makin, a shareholder, has joined from Training for Travel as director.
The firm is targeting carrying one million bags within three years, 13% of the passenger numbers carried by leading budget carriers Ryanair and easyJet, to the destinations it covers.
These are limited to some of the most popular holiday hot spots in the western Mediterranean due to the logistics of couriering bags which makes countries like Greece and Turkey not viable
Martin said Luggage Mule has been established to tap into the pent up frustration holidaymakers feel towards budget carriers and their policy on bags.
He conceded the service is not for everyone because bags must be ready to be collected up to four days before the first day of the holiday.
But he expects agents will grab the opportunity to get one over Ryanair and earn money when selling their seats. “The trade hates Ryanair because they are aggressively anti-trade,” he said.
“Ryanair charges more per kilo for bags then they do human beings and probably give the luggage a better service. It’s not great for the consumer.
“By using Luggage Mule an agent can sell a Ryanair seats for £50 cheaper than the consumer can by them directly from Ryanair. That’s powerful for travel agents.
“Currently the travel trade receives no commission for selling low cost carrier flights or add-ons including booking luggage. Luggage Mule will change all that.”
Luggage Mule has secured agreements with courier UPS so that all toiletries can be carried, something rivals currently cannot offer.
The company has set up the technology to embed the booking within agents’ websites and both inbound and outbound trips can be made in a single booking.
Martin said offering the service via agents as clients are booking the holiday was vital. “If you allow people to book their airline seats and sell the service afterwards it’s not going to work.
“By then they have already booked their luggage. The only place this is going to work is in the booking path.”
Martin estimated that Luggage Mule, which will start taking bookings in October, will sell 90% through the trade and initially won’t have a business to consumer website.
High street and call centre agents and homeworkers are being targeted as well as online agents and a manual bookings process will be offered to them.
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