We sat down with Alfred Chehebar, founder and designer of Genius Pack, to discuss suitcase design and where he sees the luggage industry going.
Why Genius Pack, Alfred?
I am a frequent traveler and when it came time to upgrade my luggage, I realized there was nothing on the market that excited me. So much about travel has changed over the past ten years but nothing new has been developed in the world of travel-goods. I started thinking up new features that would make packing and travelling less of a hassle. Some of it was pretty futuristic!
Tell us more about these futuristic features
One of the first challenges we wanted to address was laundry. It’s a big problem when you are on the road – especially for business! You don’t want to pack your dirty clothing with your clean but how do you manage the space trade-off? We created a solution in our groundbreaking patented Laundry Compression Technology. Think of it as a laundry chute that is built into the walls of your luggage, expelling the unwanted air through an air valve to save space inside.
Next we started thinking about how to help travelers stay organized on the road. Beyond the standard external pockets and suiter, we added labeled compartments for devices, an integrated battery pack for recharging your cellphone, a removable toiletry kit and a built-in combination lock.
During the design process, we conducted focus groups and learned that a common challenge for business travelers is getting caught in surprise rain storms. To address this, we created the exterior access to the emergency umbrella pop-out of our luggage.
To protect these futuristic features, we designed the outside of the bag with strong wheels and an extremely durable poly-carbonate film coating.
Which traveler did you have in mind when your first thought of Genius Pack?
We initially designed our product line with male business travelers in mind but quickly saw that 45% of our sales were coming from female customers. Based on client feedback from this important audience, we expanded from offering all black luggage to incorporating new colors.
How do you feel business traveler needs differ from leisure travelers?
Well, most business travelers have set-in-stone travel routine. They pack a certain way, they check-in a certain way, they pass through security a certain way. Where as occasional leisure travelers usually have no routine… They’ll start calling friends for packing advice, they’ll call the airline 2 weeks in advance to make sure they comply with everything, and so on. We found that business travelers really respond positively to intuitive packing system can help them quickly confirm that they have everything they need in once place.
Where do you see the suitcase market going in the future?
There has definitely been a shift to specialized business packing. The mandated size and weight restrictions from airlines challenges designers to thing outside of the box. Two decades ago, suitcase design differed based on external appearance and brand, now we see the addition of integrated charging stations, hidden compartments and better design of the wheels and handles. We are also seeing stronger and lighter luggage from better material options and manufacturing processes. These updates help us better respond to the traveler’s need for more personalized solutions tailored to their unique needs.
What are your key tips to pack efficiently?
1. Pack less, even if you can fit more. You never know what you’ll pick up on your travels.
2. Always pack a few extra pairs of underwear.
3. Ask for later checkout. Often, hotels can provide late checkout at no additional fee, so you won’t have to leave your bags downstairs.
4. Forget google and strike up conversation with a concierge.