Never lose your luggage on a flight again! A business set up by two old schoolfriends is taking the pain out of catching the plane
It’s a mind-blowing statistic. According to official international travel figures more than 28 million people a year fly off on their holidays and business trips to find that their luggage didn’t make it with them. It either never got on the plane, went to Malta or Melbourne instead of Malaga or was piled up somewhere for days or weeks in ‘lost luggage’ limbo. That’s a lot of ruined escapes to the sun (or snow) and compromised corporate conferences and meetings.
But it doesn’t have to be that way – just ask Chris Boddington and Vince Essex, the duo behind Birmingham Airport-based BagsAhead, a successful and fast-growing national and international business providing door-to-door collection and delivery of luggage and personal items.
Chris and Vince first met each other at secondary school in Birmingham and never had a second thought that they would one day work together in a ground-breaking travel business. Over the intervening years they met occasionally socially and more recently were in touch over social media.
By an amazing coincidence both were pursuing parallel careers at Birmingham Airport – Chris with his own freight forwarding business and Vince involved with baggage tracing and delivery. In May 2016, more than 20 years after their first meeting at Lyndon School in Sheldon, the two men wiser (and with less hair than back in 1992), came together again to set up a business to help take the strain out of moving luggage and personal possessions.
A six-figure investment in BagsAhead has already created jobs in Birmingham with more to follow. Their door-to-door service means an end to the inconvenience of having to take luggage and other items through an airport – not to mention problems such as excess baggage charges!
The business only launched earlier this year but has already enabled a patient with motor neurone disease to transport a special hoist and so take a European holiday. Valuable and highly personal items including wedding photographs have also been delivered to New Zealand on the other side of the world. They have delivered a fleet of bikes to Sweden via private jet and a stack of snowboards to Grenoble in France
While most of the baggage and other items are taken to France, Spain and European locations, more exotic destinations have included Nigeria. “We both travel and have young families and so know the hassle involved in taking luggage and other possessions through airports,” said Vince. “Being able to have it all collected from home and not seen again until arrival at the hotel or holiday home removes a huge inconvenience.”
The service is also aimed at parties such as golfing groups, skiers and bikers as well as people moving to live or study abroad. “When we met at school all those years ago we had no idea that we would both end up as entrepreneurs working in travel and aviation,” added Chris, who like Vince is 40. “It just shows what a small world this is and BagsAhead is helping make travel to anywhere in the globe that much easier.”
In his baggage tracing business Vince knew only too well what a huge waste of time and resources locating and returning ‘lost’ baggage can be – not to mention the human cost with angry travellers and damage to airlines’ reputations. “Chris and I got chatting about wanting to start a business together,” said Vince. “We came up with the idea that it would be good if we could stop the problem of trying to trace bags by collecting them from people’s home or work and sending them on ahead so they are already in their hotel or holiday home when they walk in.”
This removes the need for travellers to check-in their bags – it’s all done for them by BagsAhead. It also means that luggage is automatically tracked (just as with many other regular goods you order online) and is more secure. Take your bags to an airport yourself and your bags will get scanned once, but with BagsAhead the same item can be scanned at various points in its journey anywhere from eight or even 10 times.
Ah, but what about the cost of all of this, we hear you ask? Well, like any bespoke service, it’s going to cost you more than if you check it in and lug around your own baggage but the charges are very competitive like-for-like. (For example, you can pay anything from £50 upwards if you entrust your golf clubs, skis or snowboards to the airline – and their reputation for looking after such awkward and often fragile gear isn’t great to say the least!)
While BagsAhead is based at Birmingham Airport, the service is nationwide and international, operating through all the leading airports. “We are based in Birmingham because both of us grew up here and both live in Solihull,” said Vince. The personal customer is very important to Chris and Vince, but the potential in the corporate market is particularly exciting.
“We are getting more into corporate, whether it be with motor manufacturers’ car launches or other business events,” said Vince. BagsAhead is also working currently on teaming up with holiday companies in the likes of the golfing and skiing markets. “We are now actively working on projects a season ahead,” said Vince. “We are continually investing in our computer platforms with the goal to become the biggest mover of baggage in the world.”