Bag tags need to do three things well.
First, they need to provide a measure of security by ensuring that, if your luggage is lost, it can be returned to you. Not that it will, but that it can.
This is why, semantically, we recommend that the phrasing of a bag tag be, “If lost…” not “If found…”. It is also why we have started recommending the inclusion of an email address on tags. Rex King tells a story that ends in the recovery of a most important piece of luggage entirely due to his having had his email address printed on his tour’s tags. Ask him about it next time you run into him on the road.
Your tag must also provide a legal identification of your bag as yours (or as belonging to a member of a traveling party), although that is almost secondary these days. However, in the case of a music tour, the tag must not identify a bag as being as we say part of a rock star’s luggage, because that’s just a big sign reading “steal me!” We’re adept at finding the line that matches these two requirements up.
Second, bag tags must provide ready identification of luggage on a baggage carousel. In most cases, strong coloration (and not necessarily a bright color) is sufficient. A navy blue tag is just as visible in the jumble of grays and browns on the belt as a red tag is. Add a second color, as contrasting type, and you have an icon that is readily spotable from a distance without your needing to read it. You can recognize your tags from the fifty or seventy-five feet away across the carousel in a busy airport.
Of course, if you’re traveling by charter, or on a bus, this is not so much of a problem. However, being able to easily read large numbers, or sort luggage by the color of the tag, can make arrivals at hotels so much easier, smoother, and more efficient. As you know better than we do.
Third, last but not least, it must stand up to a lot of punishment. It has to be durable. We use tough polyester laminating film and brass grommets (the kind with a large washer for reinforcement) to ensure that that famous baggage ape from the American Tourister commercials can’t do in your bag tag, either.