Travel Goods Association
Promoting the Growth, Profitablity & Image of the Travel Goods Industry

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A Look Back, A Glimpse Ahead

THIS IS A VERY SPECIAL ISSUE OF TRAVEL GOODS SHOWCASE, THE FIRST ISSUE of 2013, TGA's 75th Anniversary year. For me, personally, it marks another milestone — the 50th anniversary issue of Travel Goods Showcase was my first, which means I've now edited 25 years of the world's largest trade magazine devoted to travel goods.

That's a rarity for my generation, to spend an entire career in a single place. That kind of stability only comes with strength, and it speaks volumes about TGA and its continued relevance and the commitment of its members — including you.

Looking back, I've witnessed many pivotal developments that shaped our industry and the way the world travels, including:

  • The dawn of the Rollaboard® in 1987, when Robert Plath turned luggage on its side, added wheels to the bottom and a handle to the top.
  • The broadening of the luggage industry in 1999 to include travel items, with the coining of the term "travel goods" and the reinvention of the Luggage & Leather Goods Manufacturers of America (LLGMA) as the Travel Goods Association (TGA).
  • 9/11/2001 and its aftermath, which changed travel forever, and continues to shape the travel experience — and travel goods — today.

One huge difference nobody saw coming is the impact of personal computers as they've morphed from being a tool for engineers and accountants into an indispensable business instrument. Global manufacturing, stock-keeping, accounting, logistics — they all hinge on millions of computers and the Internet, that mysterious network few of us had even heard of in 1988, and few of us could live without today, professionally or personally.

Computers have also radically altered the way Travel Goods Showcase is put together. Twenty-five years ago the magazine was laid out by hand, with type and photos being trimmed with X-Acto knives and pasted up by hand on layout boards we'd FedEx to the printer for photography, and the film produced would be used to generate the printing plates. Today we use computers to drop in type and images (delivered electronically — we haven't seen film in years), lay it out and deliver to the printer online. It saves days, even weeks — and Kim, our designer, enjoys creative flexibility no art director could dream of in the X-Acto-and-paste-up era.

Looking ahead, it's fun to see the future dawning. The proliferation of portable electronics continues to change the types of things we sell (tablet cases, anyone?), and it's impacting travel with the advent of paperless ticketing. Not far off, we'll probably just log in on our tablets or cell phones to unlock rental cars and gain entry to our hotel rooms; we'll close our bills and check out not with a person, but with a finger-swipe. And that's just for starters.

In the 1920s companies on the S&P 500 were, on average, 67 years old. Today, the average is a mere 15 years, which says a lot about the rate of change in business and the marketplace. But I'm willing to bet there will still be a place for travel, and travel goods. Which means there's still going to be a need for TGA, its members, and the things we bring to the traveling public. Even if we can't imagine them yet.


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