A New Way to Find Lost Luggage
By Erica Garnett
Flying somewhere on vacation is meant to be hassle free and fun. Of the multitude of factors that could potentially go wrong, a large percentage stems from mishandled baggage. In 2012, a whopping 25.8 million bags went missing due to airlines mislabeling them, failing to load them, delays and other reasons.
Although airlines are proactively working on improving this problem, it is inevitable that some bags will always get lost. HomingPIN is a solution that makes luggage mishandling nothing more than a brief inconvenience.
The Need for HomingPIN and its Unique Features
HomingPIN uses small and strong permanent bag tags. For larger luggage, there are loops to go around handles. Key-ring tags and asset labels are also available to stick on cell phones, cameras, laptops, briefcases, passports and other important personal items.
Andrew Hopwood, Managing director of HomingPIN, said, "Ten years ago we traveled with a book and a magazine. Now we travel with a Kindle, and iPad and other expensive items.”
On each tag is a pin number specific to each HomingPin customer. These pins correspond to a Unique Identifier Service (UIS) that is tagged to the customer’s email address and phone numbers.This eliminates identity theft that travelers commonly fall victim to by putting their name, address and phone number on their luggage. In the event that their luggage is lost, their information could end up in the wrong hands.
When luggage is lost with a HomingPIN, there is no compromising of any personal information because it is all in one protected place. The finder simply goes online to HomingPin.com and enters the pin code found of the luggage tag. This notifies the HomingPIN customer by text and or email immediately. The owner can then arrange to get their property back.
In the realistic event that luggage is lost in a foreign country, HomingPIN is available in 70 languages with free type-text translations so both the finder and the user can speak with ease in their native languages. “This is what makes it a truly a global product” Hopwood explains.
Not only does HomingPIN assist across different languages but different modes of travel a well. Globally, taxis, public transportation, hotels, trains and other forms of transportation do not have the means necessary to cope with all the items that are lost on them.
HomingPIN is not reliant on the goodwill of people but encourages it by providing a simple platform to do a good deed. Hopwood speaks to this product saying, “As this grows, the community grows.” The system is also not reliant on a Wifi or cellular signal. Common tracking systems currently in place, such as GPS and the ‘Find my iPhone’ app from Apple are.
In the case of the ‘Find my iPhone’ app, the iPhone also needs to be turned on for location, another dependency flaw thus decreasing chances of a finding the item. HomingPIN creators were adamant in its formation that it was not going to be a battery reliant, difficult or costly piece of technology compared to its technological predecessors.
HomingPIN was launched in 2010 and is in strategic partnership with the IATA. The five-year work relationship between the two parties has resulted in a bi partisan creation of the world’s first global positioning system. HomingPIN would attend all events in the airline industry to ensure it was producing something would not just be beneficial to the customer but the airline as well.
The UIS platform which the codes found on each HomingPIN device are stored is integrated into the airline baggage tracing system, World Tracer. This system is operated by 2,200 airports globally. This provides airline and airport ground handlers with a new, secure source of data, disclosing both routing and baggage details of the HomingPIN customer.
Therefore luggage with a HomingPIN will have a prevalence of being addressed first by airport handlers. This is because HomingPIN ensures an expedited and full proof process of contacting the customer and getting the luggage returned to them.
Hopwood refers to the lengthy process of handling lost luggage as “Costly, time-consuming and reactive” for everyone. By making this process efficient, HomingPin empowers passengers to participate in bringing baggage on airlines without any trepidation. Hopwood continues, describing HomingPIN as, “A way to keep the customer in the loop for the first time.”
Although airlines ultimately remain responsible for mishandled luggage, HomingPin greatly aids them in this process. In addition, the system does not require any expensive IT or development necessary, thus benefiting the industry and saving it large amounts of money.
Expansion and Implementation of HomingPIN
Although the system was developed in The United Kingdom, America is going to be the primary market for HomingPIN. Already with sales branches in New Jersey, Hopwood shares, “ The United States has been fantastic with the support they have shown us.” The HomingPIN team plans to be at the Travel Good Show in Las Vegas this March to further endorse the product to the country.
It is currently being launched in Brookstone stores, fitting nicely with the store’s quintessential selling of unique, problem-solving items. Hopwood refers to HomingPIN being, “Aimed at people with the duty of care.”
The company has also just launched its new app approximately a month ago. The focus of the app is to expand the design and image of HomingPIN beyond that of airports and into other means of transportation. In the context of airports, the app will, however, be able to upload boarding passes.
The app is free and the low-cost annual subscription for HomingPIN overall is available through premium rate by texting or payment online.
Currently, HomingPin products are offered in three specific packs. The Gadget Pack includes one loop and four asset labels for $10. The Standard Pack contains three loops, 12 asset label and one keyring for $20 and the Family Pack comes with six loops, 24 asset labels, and two key rings for $30.
Hopwood refers to the products capability as, “Covering you from the moment you leave your house till you come home”, ultimately saying, “It’s a different feeling when you are offering a product that works.”
Erica Garnett is a former intern at GoNOMAD Travel. She now lives in New Hampshire.
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