Bringing Luggage Storage Into The Digital Age

Before Peter Korbel started the StoreMe luggage storage service, he lugged around a gym bag and didn’t like bringing it to his meetings.

If he could have left the bag in a safe and secure place, he would have been “a happy customer,” he recalled in a PYMNTS interview. And if he saw the need for such a service, he thought that others might have the same need.

At the same time, he saw innovation and growth in the Airbnb short-term rental space. (After all, travelers who stay in an Airbnb may not have hotel staff to help them store their bags.)

Beyond serving tourists who are staying in vacation rentals, the service has other use cases. Sports fans who visit stadiums might want to store their bags before heading in to catch a game. Korbel noted it is increasingly becoming “more challenging” to bring items into events.

Whether consumers use the service when they travel or enjoy sports, Korbel initially built the platform for mobile instead of a web-responsive site because the consumer he wanted to reach was on the go. Later, he built it for the web as well.

To store their bags using Korbel’s service, consumers log onto his platform and enter a city, address or location in or near which they would like to store their luggage. They can then select a host, which could be, say, a retail store or hotel, and enter their drop-off and pick-up times in addition to their number of small and/or large bags. When consumers make a reservation, they also have to take a picture of the luggage. After that point, consumers receive an email confirmation and can then arrive at a host’s location to store their bags.

Pricing and Target Market

The service charges consumers by the hour for up to six hours before it moves over to a daily rate. The first 30 minutes of luggage storage are free, and it charges consumers different rates for small bags versus large bags. Consumers pay for their storage by credit card, and the hosts get paid out every Friday through Stripe, which Korbel said “is our third-party payment processor.”

The company’s target market, Korbel said, runs “the gamut.” It will serve the college student who is in Washington, D.C., for the first time and is staying in an Airbnb. It will also serve older audiences. Korbel’s parents have used the service in New York City when they have visited the theater and shopped.

Hosts on the platform range from cleaners to hotels to coffee shops to convenience stores. The company vets the businesses on the platform. And, Korbel said, just as they protect the inventory that’s in their stores, they will do the same for luggage.

He also noted that the hosts are forward-facing businesses “that take a lot of pride in what they do.” They’re “the fabric of all these different communities” in all these major cities, he noted. He also pointed out that with all the innovation in the market, and with the different kinds of sharing economy services, consumers have been more accustomed to dealing with people they don’t know and transacting with them through technology.

As it stands, the PYMNTS Payments and The Platform Economy Playbook found that the projected value of payment platforms by the end of 2024 is $154 billion.

Smart Cities

Korbel noted there is a lot of attention and innovation around smart cities. He said cities that allow scooters to thrive are a “nice indicator” as a good market for the platform. Someone who rides around on one is very much a potential customer for the company. To lighten their load, that person might store their luggage near one landmark in Washington, D.C., jump on a scooter to see another attraction, and then ride back to retrieve their luggage after their scooter trip.

He also pointed out that more short-term rentals are having a positive impact on the luggage storage industry. Even hotel guests might be his customers, as they might not want to return to the hotel to pick up their bags as they explore a city before catching a train to another one. As it stands, the company’s platform serves communities such as Austin, Boston, Charleston and Chicago, among other places. (Beyond StoreMe, other platforms such as Vertoe connect shopkeepers with travelers looking for a place to store their belongings.)

Korbel said his service is a modern-day extension of luggage storage in train stations — and it makes that offering more accessible by bringing it into neighborhoods and putting it into stores.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel,” he said — the company is just aiming to make the service more efficient and accessible in the sharing economy.