Entrepreneur Bill Rinehart imagines a world where weighing your carry-on, going through customs and packing 3-ounce cosmetics are things of the past.
"I was in London on a Friday, at a pub waiting for an Uber, and I had to be in New York on Monday," said Rinehart, founder and CEO of DUFL. "And I'm going through in my mind: I got to get up first thing tomorrow, get this sports coat to the dry cleaner and re-pack everything. I thought, 'There's got to be a better way.' "
Start-up DUFL announced its international launch last week. After debuting for U.S. trips at the end of April, DUFL will now be available in Europe and Canada as well as Singapore, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne, the company said.
For the user base of the Arizona-based company, its international expansion could make packing for business trips abroad a lot easier. DUFL is the only company that provides a centralized digital closet to travelers in multiple countries, making packing a thing of the past, said Rinehart.
DUFL users send a single advance shipment of all their business-meeting cosmetics and attire to a temperature-controlled warehouse where it is kept laundered and ready to go. Three days before a trip, users let DUFL know the hotel address at their destination—and the clothes will be shipped by FedEx and waiting on the users' arrival.
It all happens on the DUFL app, where customers can scroll through photos of all their DUFL clothes and pick what they need.
DUFL faces competition from similar services, such as London-based AirPortr and Amsterdam-based Leave your Luggage, which also free users from toting bags by picking suitcases up, shipping them, and dropping them at the airport for you.
But Piper Jaffray analyst Mike Olson said that as big travel booking companies such as Priceline, TripAdvisor or Airbnb look to differentiate themselves as one-stop-shop travel websites, they may be looking to add peripheral, value-added services. A British study of over 1,000 people in March found that 32 percent believe packing is the most stressful aspect of traveling. Another perk of the service: If your package is delayed, a courier in your destination city will buy you clothes identical to ones you already have in your closet.
When customer Debbe McCall had to move hotels at the last minute because a water main broke, a DUFL concierge quickly redirected her luggage. Rinehart said he's even gotten in to Nordstrom before the store opened to help a client.
At $99 per trip on top of $10 monthly membership fees, it's not cheap—though Rinehart said many clients expense the service through their job. McCall said it's worth it.
"The one thing I adore is, when I get home, I'm done with my trip," she said. "Others, they still have to unpack and do laundry. They're still working, not really home. Now, traveling is almost pleasant again."