Husband and wife Neha and Sid Khattri were on the final leg of a four-week vacation when they found themselves in an inconvenient predicament: The Khattris had plans to visit LA’s beaches before their flight home to New York, but had nowhere to leave their bags for the day.
Saddled with a month’s worth of luggage, they decided to find a place to ditch their three oversized suitcases before heading to the beach. However, this quickly turned into what Neha Khattri described as a “mad scramble.” Their Airbnb host declined to watch the bags for a few extra hours. The airline wouldn’t take the bags early, either.
“It ruined our day,” Neha told Business Insider.
In a moment of desperation, they decided to ask a local shopkeeper if they wouldn’t mind watching the bags for a few hours in exchange for quick cash. They agreed – for the price of $US20 per bag. $US60 later, the Khattris had solved their problem, but were somehow more upset than ever.
The couple decided to vent their frustrations into an entrepreneurial endeavour. Two years later, they launched Vertoe, the short-term luggage solution that the Khattris wish would have existed when they took their getaway.
Vertoe has a booking process similar to that of Airbnb: The company connects shopkeepers with extra space to travellers in need of a short term storage spot. You can book your bags on Vertoe from anything between one hour to one month. (The company offers discounts for anyone storing their belongings for longer than a week.)
Vertoe’s daily rate is $US6 ($AU7.80) per bag, whether you leave your luggage for two hours or for the entire 24. “We didn’t want to make bookings in hourly segments because we thought people would find it too stressful,” said Neha.
The only catch is that you’re leaving your belongings with people you don’t know. Most of the businesses that use Vertoe are mum and pop shops located in high-traffic neighbourhoods, or stores in areas close to bus stations and airports with a little extra space to spare. However, Neha said that Vertoe has a strict vetting process that includes interviewing each shopkeeper, an inspection of the store, and a two week probation period. Since Vertoe’s launch in 2016, Neha said that they have only had to remove one shopkeeper. “He wasn’t very nice to people,” she said.
As another precautionary measure, Vertoe requires security cameras to be installed at each business’s location and covers up to $US3000 per bag in insurance costs. So far, Vertoe is only available in New York, but the company has plans to expand to more cities throughout the US.
Here’s how Vertoe works:
To book your bags on Vertoe, go to the company’s website and select a time and location when you’d like to drop off your bags. As a trial run, I made a booking for the earliest time available, which turned out to be 30 minutes out. I set my location for JFK Airport and said that I needed storage for only one hour.
While most of the last minute options near JFK were about 10 miles away, there was one option that was less than a mile and a half away from the airport.
Vertoe keeps the name of the business private until you book and enter you credit card information. But as you can see here, the site does tell you how close that business is to your destination.
Once I booked my storage reservation, Vertoe provided the business’s location, email address, and phone number, and told me that I’d need to bring along a photo ID in order to check my bags.
Upon booking, I received both an email and text confirmation.
Because I was using Vertoe only as a trial run, I asked for a refund. A few moments later, Vertoe sent over a receipt with a refund, which is in keeping with the company’s lenient “cancel at any time” policy.
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