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Portable Pals(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 02,2008)

Travel Products

WorldConnect Swiss Travel Products supplies travel power products including adaptors and chargers, as well as computer bags

A simple, handy invention has fuelled the rapid global growth of an innovative supplier of travel power products and computer bags in just five years.

WorldConnect Swiss Travel Products, headquartered in Steinhausen, Switzerland, created a small, sleek adaptor that holds four easily retractable power plug options in one casing, which can be used in more than 150 countries.

"We invented what is now the best-selling World Travel Adapter," claims Chief Executive Officer Sam Gerber. "It reflects the essence of our business strength and strategy, which is creating a global brand of patented travel products featuring Swiss design and engineering."

The device works with the simple press of a safety button, providing a compact, safe, and highly convenient adaptor for use worldwide.

Suitable for portable appliances without ground pins, the adaptor is protected by a replaceable fuse. "We are so confident of the World Travel Adapter, and indeed all our products, that we offer a lifetime warranty," Mr Gerber adds.

"Recently, we re-engineered the World Travel Adapter with a USB charger module that can charge or run USB devices directly from the power supply," Mr Gerber explains. "The USB charger module can charge mobile phones, iPods, PDAs, travel speakers and other 5V USB-powered mobile electronic devices."

Other items include the Mini Mobile Phone Charger, which Mr Gerber claims to be the smallest in the world. "The ultra-slim model, for use in Europe only at present, features a thin, automatically retractable one-metre-long cable encased in a slimline design."

The charger comes with a standard Nokia plug and interchangeable tips for other mobile phone brands are available, including Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Siemens, LG and the PalmOne Treo. "This product is perfect for people who own several mobile phones and don't want to carry around numerous chargers," Mr Gerber says.

The company is continuing to expand its adaptor and charger range and planned to launch its ultra-slim model with USB plug at the CES in Las Vegas in January 2008.

WorldConnect's creativity and innovation also extends to its sales and marketing strategy. "For the last 3-4 years, we have been selling the adaptor and the mobile phone charger as on-board duty-free items on leading airlines, such as Cathay Pacific, Qantas, British Airways, Air France and Singapore Airlines," Mr Gerber notes.

"We are also establishing a new sales channel in hotels - at reception desks and in hotel rooms - as our aim is to target the business traveller from departure to return."

So successful have the adaptors and chargers become that they account for some 60% of WorldConnect's business.

With such a winning formula, the company is vigilant in protecting its worldwide patents. "We have successfully sued every company that has tried to copy our products and are totally committed to this policy," Mr Gerber warns, adding that its travel power products are manufactured at its own 50-worker, 1,200-square-metre factory in Shenzhen on the Chinese mainland.

The firm's other electronic products include USB charge and sync cables, modem series, and computer accessories including mice, notebook microphones, VoIP telephones, USB hubs and memory card readers.

WorldConnect has also developed a wide range of sophisticated, European-style computer bags for travellers, which have become its other main business line.

"We now offer more than 50 models in five ranges, from entry- to high-end level," Mr Gerber explains. "All are subtly branded with the Swiss Travel Products logo and offer simple, fresh and light designs."

Basic Line and Defender Line are its lower-end series, Cross and Lake Series its mid-range, and Mountain is its high-end collection, which also includes heavier luggage items. Both the Mountain and Lake series were launched at the Hong Kong Electronics Fair (Autumn Edition) in October 2007.

"Our bags are produced in factories in Dongguan as southern China offers better quality," Mr Gerber maintains. "We use environmentally-friendly fabrics from Taiwan and plastic from Europe, to meet all European standards and safety regulations.

"Our FOB bag prices range from US$30-250 each," Mr Gerber says, adding that the firm's customers include discount stores and IT distributors, as well as large retailers, department stores and duty-free shops.

WorldConnect knows that to stay ahead in this competitive market, it must continually add new designs or features to its computer bags. "For example, our Mountain backpack/trolley series has a sturdy, one-shaft telescopic handle, hidden shoulder straps, a computer compartment and luggage space, as well as multiple side pockets," says Mr Gerber. "Made of high-quality nylon, the bag is available in natural and khaki colours."

The new Lake series is a soft-frame, young design with magnetic closures and a handy trolley slot that can be zipped up to provide an optional extra pocket.

"Europe takes 40% of our travel bag production, Asia-Pacific 30%, the US 20%, and the Middle East 10%," notes Mr Gerber. "We have offices in Singapore, Toronto, Dubai, Germany and the Netherlands to ensure we maintain our global focus."

Clearly, WorldConnect is fully charged to go as far as possible to make business travel more stylish and convenient.



Fast Facts

WorldConnect Swiss Travel Products
Hinterbergstrasse 47
CH-6312 Steinhausen, Switzerland
Tel: 41-41-740-4570
Fax: 41-41-740-4571
Web: www.swisstravelproducts.com

Year Established: 2002
Major Product Categories: power products,
computer bags
Brands & Certificates: Swiss Travel Products
Minimum Order: 5,000 pieces
Monthly Production Capacity: 100,000 pieces plus
Delivery Time: 4 weeks
Factory Size & Location: 1,200 square metres;
Workforce: 50