Borry Vrieling is a long-standing businessman who has spent a number of years at the top of his trade. With 23 years experience, he was well versed in the labelling industry before his company, Eezeetags, stepped into the open and became the fore-runner in the self- service baggage label industry.
Borry talks openly about his background, telling me he spent all of his professional life working in the label industry as a sales person. He had the luck to be selected by an American multimillion dollar, market leading company that sold self-adhesive labels.
At just 21 with no university experience and no knowledge of the label industry at that time, he learned fast. He worked for that company for 13 years and became very enthusiastic about the product he was selling, but soon became tired with the reorganisation and reinvention.
With a saturated market, Borry decided to stick with what he knew he was good at. He bought a label machine, started his company Varilabel. The rest is history.
5 years ago Amsterdam airport approached Varilabel. They were interested in installing a self service bag tagging machine in the terminal and wanted some labels providing. Borry had an immediate solution, as he had been confronted with a problem and had found a solution to this some six months previously.
Borry was stood in an airport waiting to check his bag in, when he was issued with a label he was to attach to his bag himself. He stood, with 30 years experience in the label industry, and was unsure how to attach the label to his bag. This frustrated him, as he knew there must be a simple solution, yet worried about attaching the label wrong and his bag ending up elsewhere.
He knew his company already had the materials needed to make this a much simpler process: adhesive that will only adhere to itself, making the need to peel off backing paper void. The first order he received was for a KLM proof of concept for 1.000 labels. After this trail KLM decided to go for this eezeetag. His second customer was Lufthansa. Not a bad start into a new market.
Whilst Eezeetags are the market leader in self-service bag tagging, it is still very much a closed market. The process of airports switching from agent-run to kiosk based is a slow process with bag tagging a very small process in a vast, ever changing environment.
“Self service will speed up the process within airports” Borry says: “Although passengers are as such inexperienced with all the right components in place,
they can still be faster than an agent. Kiosks are easy to use and intuitive. Kiosks will work 24/7, More kiosks can fit in the space taken up by check in desks. The same amount of agents can be employed, each overseeing up to 12 kiosks each. They are only there to assist passengers rather than do things for them. This can only have a positive impact on the costs of running an airport, with some costs dropping by up to 50%”
The switch from agent run to kiosk run can take 12-16 months in some cases. This requires businesses like Eezeetags to be patient. As airports switch, the
market grows. It is a hard industry to break into for this reason, with the calling for baggage labels coming to Eezeetags at just the right time.
As the market grows, Eezeetags are realising they can’t conquer the industry on their own. 3.4 billion passengers fly a year currently, and Borry tells me that is set to rise to an astonishing 7.4 billion come 2034. The introduction of the low budget airlines has made flying a far more accessible form of transport, making the airport industry even larger than it was before, wish some passengers flying 3 or 4 times a year. With the economic trade wind in favour of China and India a whole new middle class is forming. In these countries. All these people start to use air transportation for touristic reasons, using the countries low cost carries, but also travelling overseas with the more legacy Airlines.
“We are looking to collaborate with local production companies across the world that share the same views and hold the same values. Eezeetags is still a small company. Within the self-service baggage industry we served 45 million passengers but in the whole baggage label industry, we only serve 1% of the baggage tags. In the world of self- service bag labels, we are the market leader, especially in the UK. We hope to have grown large enough to provide labels across the world, with the help of collaborations, in two years.”
It takes a great amount of determination to succeed in business, and Borry has it in bucket loads. He says the key is hard work and belief in yourself. The business world isn’t glamorous, especially in the beginning. You need to trust in your ideas and products, keep working even if it seems the world is against you and hope a little bit of luck comes your way. That has certainly been the case in Borry’s working life, with Varilabel and Eezeetags on the up in an ever growing market.