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Travel Product Referral Program Example: Trunkster

Melody Madhavan
Melody Madhavan
January 25, 2016
2 min read
Travel Product Referral Program Example: Trunkster

Trunkster makes intelligent, sleek and unique suitcases that uses a revolutionary sliding door mechanism instead of traditional zippers.

Everyone’s dealt with the frustration of chunky suitcases with unwieldy flaps, stuck zippers and bulky designs.

Trunkster aims to solve these woes by creating what it calls ‘intelligent luggage’ - a suitcase that uses a unique sliding-door mechanism with a beautiful, sleek silhouette and a chock-full of features like scales, portable batteries and even a tracking device.


Trunkster was created by Jesse and Gaston, two globetrotters that realised there was a need to fix the problems faced with most suitcases.

When they couldn't find a solution that satisfied them, they decided to take things into their own hands.

Raised $50,000 within the hour and $2.4m afterwards!

Trunkster ended up being a huge success. It had the original goal of raising US$50,000 - which it reached within an hour of creating the campaign.

At the end of the campaign, it managed to get 3,566 backers pledging a huge 1.4 million dollars.

They have been featured on Huffpost, Yahoo! and even on ABC’s Shark Tank, where they got another 1.4 million dollars worth of investment.

trunkster marketing

We talked to them about their success, their best practices and struggles. Here’s a summary of what we’ve learnt from them!

1. They achieved huge amounts of word-of-mouth from their Kickstarter and their TV appearance

A few things allowed them their Kickstarter to achieve the success it did.

Firstly, their innovative idea and design allowed them to differentiate from all their competitors - and people love sharing about new ideas!

Secondly, their Kickstarter was well-prepped. Apart from a very informative video, the Kickstarter clearly illustrated the amount of research and time the creators had put into the design and future production with detailed explanations about every component.


Thirdly, their story was extremely compelling as well. Two globetrotters who obviously knew the troubles faced by travellers very well, sketching their ideas on napkins at first and then turning them to reality.

jesse and gaston founders of trunkster

Bryan from the team shares with us that “(their) consumers are young millennial business travellers looking to try out something new.” Especially considering their target audience, the travellers-turned-entrepreneur story connects to their audience extremely well and makes the product just that much cooler.

Lastly, their idea and success was good enough to get them onto ABC’s Shark Tank, a show where entrepreneurs attempt to get ‘shark investors’ to fund their projects. Not only did they get an investment, they were able to reach a huge audience which continued to spur on their word-of-mouth.

2. Their priorities? Ensuring quality, sales and brand development

trunkster entirely new class of luggage

Even as many products get funded by Kickstarter daily, only a few are able to keep up their success.

This is why Trunkster’s top priority is to ensure that they're producing a really high-quality product that it fits into the original design specifications.

“Producing a really high quality product, that’s number 1 - that’s the thing that gives us the most work, to ensure the quality of the design we came up with.”

Now that they’ve started production and created their own independent site, they are “looking towards stocking their product in retail outlets around the world.” They are also hoping to convert fully from a pre-sale site to a real time shipping site with inventory.


Lastly, Trunkster aims to become more than a name of a product, and eventually evolve to a full brand with a variety of products that help travellers.

“We care about creating a brand consciousness, rather than a one off product.”

They are now moving towards creating more brand consciousness, via both word-of-mouth and traditional marketing.

3. Their challenges? Getting out their products to fulfil the demand

trunkster sold out

Too much of a good thing - that’s what Trunkster faced when starting to develop the suitcase. The demand for their product was huge, and they had to deal with a lot of logistical and manufacturing issues to make sure everyone was satisfied.

“Most of my day revolves around calls with our engineers, our contract manufacturers, logistics, shipping, then some retail partners - we have many calls every day to make sure our products are able to make it to the over 10000 people who purchase.”

However, on the rare occasion they do have free time, Trunkster meets with designers to work on other products as part of its brand - we’re hoping they’re able to bring their genius of their suitcase to other travelling products!

4. Trunkster’s Referral Program - an easy, hands-off way to get their product known (and get sales on the way!)

trunkster referral program

Trunkster’s referral program has been a success, and barely cost them anything. Considering their huge list of things to-do, they needed a hassle-free referral program, and settled on using our app and providing advocates with $30 off!

“Cash speaks well to people - we want people to be rewarded for sharing and to be able to get 30 dollars is the biggest incentive we can give to someone for sharing.”

They barely spend any time on the app itself. Bryan shares that “(They) just set it up once and then check in monthly to see what’s been going on with it.”

“(We mainly look at) the analytics, how many people shared, social shares, revenue and sales generated from those referrals.”

To Trunkster, referrals were a win-win situation.

“It’s an easy way to stimulate people who, maybe, aren’t thinking about buying the product but know someone who’s simple, it drives revenue and it was something that we could set up easily. That was the biggest thing, because otherwise I would have to create my own system.”

“One of the cool things about having a referral program is that even if people aren’t purchasing right away, you have a constant buzz on social media, people are sharing about this opportunity, so we look at how much shares and how much people are talking about it.”

It both secured sales and word-of-mouth, syncing it perfectly with Trunkster’s objectives.


Read next: How To Set Up Your Referral Program's Incentives (With 12+ Examples)


Melody Madhavan
Melody Madhavan

Melody is a history major and part of the pioneer batch of Yale-NUS College. She hopes to be able to bring forgotten historical narratives back to life, and learn how to make the perfect latte.

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