Mailer Fits Seven Continents in One Book

It’s a big, beautiful world out there. By redesigning its catalog, Wilderness Travel intends to help customers and prospects see more of it.

In October, the Berkeley, CA-based marketer of adventure travel vacations mailed 85,000 copies of a revamped 128-page catalog. Working with creative agency Kowalski Design Works, $20 million Wilderness Travel wanted to make the book easier to read, says Barbara Banks, director of marketing and new trip development for the 23-year-old cataloger.

Wilderness Travel targets educated professionals ranging in age from mid-30s to mid-60s. Catalog customers are active participants on the trips, which range from sea kayaking and snorkeling adventures in the Pacific atolls of the Palau archipelago to country walks in Provence, France. Because of the nature of the vacations – and the fact that many customers combine business trips with further travel for pleasure – the book needed to provide readers with quick access to trip details and highlights of a specific tour or destination.

The redesigned catalog features a colorful format and layout for each travel destination. Grouped around a series of photographs depicting a typical day, the trip details have been rearranged so that readers can ascertain at a glance the itinerary, dates, prices, and level of physical activity for each trip. A map further clarifies the location and itineraries.

Final figures from the redesigned catalog were not available by press time, but Banks says early results have been encouraging, with a “significant” increase in sales.

Word travels fast The travel cataloger is growing through word-of-mouth, Banks says, as well as through space advertising. In addition to the current active customer base of 85,000, Wilderness Travel receives thousands of catalog requests a year from advertisements in travel publications such as the New York Times Sophisticated Traveler magazine supplement and National Geographic.

About 11% of prospects who receive a catalog either book a trip or contact Wilderness Travel for more information, Banks says. All told, one out of every 15 requesters sign up for a trip, for a conversion rate of nearly 7%.

Wilderness Travel produces one catalog edition a year, but it plans to mail a midseason title, Best of Wilderness Travel, in the first quarter of 2001.

The 28-page book will highlight a limited number of trips from the core catalog and mail to the entire house file.

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