My travels through Asia and beyond
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Clothing rental for your vacation – crazy or sensible idea?

I was just reading an article on a company that is starting a new service that enables travelers to rent their clothes for their holiday. The idea is that it cuts down the need for having to carry around heavy luggage on your holiday. When I first read the article, it sounded more like an April fool’s day joke to me.

The founder of the new service is Catharine MacIntosh and the company is called Zero Baggage. Maybe the idea is more appealing to women, but I wonder how many women could really travel with no luggage?

I generally travel light anyway. Most of my luggage is made up of my laptop and various accessories like cameras and other equipment. Presumably I could get these items also at Zero Baggage, but I would waste time trying to set up a new laptop how I like it. The new netbooks that are available are small and light anyway. I don’t like carrying too many clothes and one pair of shoes and some sandals is generally enough.

I know many people don’t like having to wait for their luggage at the baggage claim area at the airport, but even though it sometimes seems like an eternity, I am sure in reality it’s usually only about 5-10 minutes. I have never understood how people are in such a mad rush to get off the plane when it lands and then they only have to wait to pick up their luggage.

If you have no luggage on a plane, especially on a long flight I would imagine that you might raise some suspicions with immigration and customs of most countries.

Imagine after landing in your new destination you have to visit a store or somewhere to try on an pick out your clothes. I believe the service is done all online, so perhaps this isn’t necessary, but how many times do you try on something and it fits the first time?

From the company’s website as to why the service was started:

Allowing for an environmentally responsible, anxiety-free way of living and travelling brings us closer to a state of seamless travel and weightless living. Less, truly becomes more. Movement and circulation of items create a robust new business model generating greater wealth over a longer period of time.

Is it just me or is one of the most ludicrous ideas for a travel related business?

7 comments

1 catharine macintosh { 09.25.09 at 12:17 pm }

Hi Mike,
Wow. Just read your post and would love a chance to respond.

Believe it or not, the most positive consumer response to zerobaggage, so far, has been overwhelmingly been from women. Your assumption that women couldn’t take “zerobaggage” might be a little off the mark. For some reason men seem to be more concerned with having their own things. Who knew?
As for setting up a new computer, cloud computing is already solving this. When you turn a hardware device on you simply connect to “your settings” via the web. (Although not everyone does this …yet).

As for the clothes fitting, there is an option to “try upon arrival” if preferred. As well as many new measurement and 3-D modeling software programs that aid in this.

The fact is it may not be for everyone, which is totally fine with us. What we are responding to is the future reality that luggage won’t be allowed on airplanes (people will ship their luggage or look for other alternatives). Travelling without passenger luggage benefits, the airlines (increasing time calculations, gate-to-gate, reducing fuel costs, saving load time, creating an alternate revenue stream for cargo), the airport (movement is more fluid and more efficient, a huge savings in security is realized (scanning luggage for unsafe items is very costly), and finally it should benefit passengers (instead of lines and frustration they find ease and convenience).
The business model may be difficult to imagine but it disrupts the sell more / consume more model and moves toward an offering of quality items, circulated for maximum environmental benefit and a way of increasing the revenue generated by a single item over time and with less waste.
Critical feedback is very important to us. We are also not out to convince those who don’t like the idea but we do like to share more information regarding why we believe it is a good idea on many levels.
So although you may not wish to be one of our early adopters, as a well travelled individual we hope you will consider these points and give us further feedback. The more challenging the better! That’s how the best product or service is finally realized. Please feel welcome to email me personally at catharine@zerobaggage.com if you wish to have further dialogue regarding zb.
Thanks!
Catharine MacIntosh

2 Mike { 09.25.09 at 5:15 pm }

Good luck with the business.

3 Chris { 12.06.09 at 8:58 am }

Hi Mike, very interesting article.
Sorry but I still do not have the point of this business.
Why do I need this service?
If the answer is to save time at the airport check-in/out, I am sorry to say but for me is ridiculous as you have to spend the “saved time” by setting-up your computer and selecting your clothes online.
However, what is the cost of the service? Is maybe a cheaper option just buying few new clothes?
Catharine, you said “the future reality is that luggage won’t be allowed on airplanes “, could you please specify when it will happen?

4 catharine macintosh { 03.15.10 at 9:18 pm }

Hi Chris,
Sorry for the way-delayed response – I lost track of this thread – but RyanAir started ‘zero checked luggage’ on all flights beginning in Sept/09 [http://blogs.wsj.com/middleseat/2008/07/28/ryanair-to-try-zero-baggage-flights/tab/article/]
and currently in Australia nearly half of domestic flights are zero check-in luggage planes (various airlines).
To attempt to answer your first question, “why do I need this service?” let me start by saying, maybe you don’t? It is intended to make life easier for people who want to reduce their consumption and to reduce all the ‘stuff ‘ that just sits around when its not being used or causes unecessary anxiety, line-ups and delays. Lots of people have suggested they would just go to a store and buy what they need if their luggage gets lost or stolen. It’s a pretty easy solution and can just be discarded later–but we’d prefer to offer a service where each time you want / need / desire something new it can be had without having to throw both it and the money spent on it away. One person told me they went to the Caribbean – luggage lost – they purchased new clothes – then gave them away to people who (said they) appreciated it. I thought this was great. To me that’s very ‘zerobaggage’. So, whether people agree or disagree with our concept the larger point, for me and us at zerobaggage, is to ask ourselves, “What is the best alternative to conspicuous consumption and waste?” and “Can it be solved in some fascinating, good (for the environment and the customer) way?” We are open to the possibilities and opportunities.
catharine.

5 Ben { 04.05.10 at 4:15 pm }

Great post. I think you should carry something always when you travel. Suspicion today is tantamount to crude treatment.

6 Singapore work Pass { 09.21.11 at 5:42 am }

Nice post Mike, This is really a different idea to keep light your luggage. And it seems cheap. useful post!!

7 Lucy@Beach holiday rentals { 11.07.12 at 9:23 pm }

Interesting article, I think the idea is not bad, travelers would be able to save with this.

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