Consumer Specialty, Gold Award: Backroads, 2001-2002

“Breathtaking images with an element of luxury and adventure” is how one judge described the cover of vacations cataloger Backroads. The cover depicts not only a few varied destinations but also vacationers partaking in the adventure.

Backroads’ captivating cover comes as no surprise: The 22-year-old company consistently does an outstanding job presenting its worldwide vacations, and it has a number of Gold Awards — including three this year — to prove it.

The panelists were quite taken with Backroads’ vacation offerings. The catalog serves up an “extensive selection of trips, from biking on Martha’s Vineyard to the exotic Mediterranean coast of Turkey,” said a judge. The catalog also makes it easy for readers to select the right kind of trip. For starters, the table of contents on page 3 is well organized and easy to follow. “A user-friendly table of contents is key in an ‘information catalog’ such as this,” noted a panelist.

The informative copy “builds a personality for the catalog,” said one judge. Also effective is the transition between the editorial and selling copy, mentioned another panelist. Extensive, descriptive text for each trip also draws readers in. Note this description of the Italian region of Puglia: “Villages of whitewashed cottages, sapphire skies and a stretch of sunny Adriatic coastline make Puglia pure perfection for a relaxing bike trip….” But the prose goes beyond the picturesque. “Buyers truly get a clear picture of each trip, along with daily itineraries — an important feature,” said one judge.

The panelists particularly loved the photography, which adds a “coffee-table-book quality,” said a judge. Another plus: the color-coded, die-cut tabs that divide the trip offerings by continent, making navigation easy.

Once customers are “sold” by the visuals and the descriptions, Backroads’ services close the deal. A 17-page section of “essential information” provides everything a prospective traveler would need to know, while the reservation form details exactly what a customer receives for his or her money. The copy includes quotes from trip leaders, along with their photos, which “bring familiarity and authority to the book,” noted a panelist. Customer testimonials further humanize the catalog, while the photo of owner Tom Hale on the inside front cover adds a touch of personalization.

“You felt like you knew the staff and company by the time you finished going through the catalog,” one judge concluded. Another said, “Allowing customers to personalize their experience is an effective way to build loyalty” — which makes it clear why this is a Gold Award winner.

801 Cedar St.
Berkeley, CA 94710
Company founded: 1979
Catalog launched: 1980
Director: Lee Micheaux
Designer/production manager:
Caldera Design
Copywriters: Lee Micheaux, Julie Snyder, Valerie Gilbert
Photographer: Matthew Cook
Marketing manager: Julie Snyder
Printer/color separator: Overseas Printing Corp.
Cover paper: 250 GSM
Text paper: 100 GSM
Number of pages: 194
Trim size: 9″ × 12″

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