But along the way, people who book accommodations via the sharing economy have found new challenges arising. Namely, what the heck do they do with their bags before check-in and after checkout?
“People don’t stay as much in hotels as they used to,” says Jannik Lawaetz. “People stay with friends or family or on a couch somewhere couch surfing, or they go on Airbnb or Booking.com and find a place to stay. So all these new ways of staying in a city makes it complicated to figure out where to leave your stuff.”
That’s why Lawaetz founded LuggageHero, a baggage storage network that’s scheduled to come to Chicago in April. Through the service, travelers look online to find a business in the LuggageHero system — which will include restaurants, bars, shops and hotels, and can be reserved online — and pay $1 a bag per hour, or $10 per day, plus a $2 per-bag handling fee, to hold their luggage.
The businesses put a tamper-proof security seal on each bag, and the contents are insured for up to $3,000.
The traveler gets peace of mind and free hands for exploring the city until it’s time to either check in or to catch a flight. And the businesses get a commission, along with extra foot traffic that often leads to purchases — a latte or beer here, an “I (heart) Chicago” T-shirt there. Everybody wins.
LuggageHero will join a handful of other similar luggage storage options in the city, such as BAGBNB and Vertoe, which charge around $6 a day per bag. In Chicago, BAGBNB has the most locations of the current offerings, at 11. LuggageHero will have nearly five times that number, with a network of around 50 businesses when it opens.
Lawaetz, who lives in Copenhagen, came up with the idea of LuggageHero after his own personal experiences with the bag-storage quandary. As both a guest and a host with Airbnb, he’s known the pain of schlepping his bag around a city for hours before checking in to an apartment, or after checking out; and he’s known the shame of telling guests he can’t store their bags outside of their reservation.
In 2016, he launched LuggageHero in Denmark to offer options to bag-weary travelers. He later expanded to London and New York. Today, there are more than 300 luggage storage locations in the three cities.
After raising $1.45 million in a recent round of funding, LuggageHero is in the middle of a growth spurt, with plans to open in more than 30 cities, including San Francisco and Boston, by January.
Of course, not every city is a fit for this kind of service. Lawaetz says that in selecting locations, he looks for places that are walkable and that have public transportation to airports. Otherwise, people could simply store their luggage in a rental car.
Lawaetz says that in selecting businesses to work with, he seeks places that are in areas with high foot traffic and have easy access to public transportation.
“You should always be nearby a LuggageHero, so that you can go out and store your luggage and go have fun,” he says. “It shouldn’t be about walking 20 minutes or half an hour to get there.”
That, of course, would take away all convenience that the service aims to give.
Kate Silver is a freelance writer.