Hate checking bags at the airport? Tired of fighting wrinkled shirts with rusty hotel irons or spending so much time at the dry cleaners? There’s a new service called DUFL just for you.
DUFL creates a “virtual closet” that stores a special suitcase full of your belongings in the company’s warehouse. When you plan a trip, simply schedule the delivery of your suitcase to your hotel. When you check in, your belongings will already be waiting for you.
At the end of your trip, simply leave the suitcase at the front desk for pickup by DUFL. The company will unpack and professionally clean all clothes, photographing them so that you can view them from the DUFL mobile app. On your next trip, simply select which clothes and items you want, and DUFL will pack them into a suitcase and ship them to your next hotel for you.
The idea came when DUFL’s Founder and CEO, Bill Rinehart, was traveling. “I was in London on a Friday for business, waiting for my return flight to Phoenix, AZ and dreading the fact that when I got home I had to unpack, do laundry, make a same day rush trip to the dry cleaner and repack so I could be in New York on Monday,” he told Opportunity Lives.
He realized that there was a niche that needed to be filled, and DUFL was born. Thousands of people have downloaded the app since, and Rinehart said there has been an “incredible amount of interest.”
The luxury travel service does come at a fee, however. Using DUFL costs $9.95 per month (to cover storage) and $99 for each roundtrip. But for many business travelers, the time saved is worth it. Dealing with large bags and wrinkled clothes is inconvenient, and many travelers have talked about how DUFL allows them to spend more time with family after getting home instead of unpacking and running to the dry cleaners.
Time at the airport is more relaxing too. DUFL users don’t have to wait in lines to check bags or at baggage claim. And security is significantly less stressful without a bag to search or liquids to remove.
“The biggest challenge to-date has been in building the back end warehouse and inventory management software,” said Rinehart. Understandably, DUFL must expertly handle an incredible amount of logistics in order to make the service worthwhile. Part of the convenience factor is that users can add different items to their suitcase or take items home with them at any time, so the system must constantly keep updated with what is in each user’s “virtual closet.”
Rinehart said the company may soon expand beyond personal use. “You’ll also see us in the enterprise space, with companies offering DUFL as an employee benefit in order to alleviate some of the hassle involved in business travel.”
Rinehart’s advice for entrepreneurs is short and simple. “Surround yourself with smart, loyal people.” The DUFL team is well on the way to reinventing the way we travel.
Daniel Huizinga is a columnist for Opportunity Lives covering business and politics. Follow him on Twitter @HuizingaDaniel.