Mountain Travel-Sobek, 1999

Mountain Travel-Sobek, like its competitor and Silver Award winner Backroads, celebrates an anniversary with its 1999 catalog. Mountain Travel-Sobek turns 30 this year, and the company is feting itself with a selection of anniversary trips, offering to take customers on treks through the Himalayas, up Mount Kilamanjaro, or into the Amazon jungle, among other destinations. The images beckoning from the cover and the copy within the book lead the audience into a world of possibility, one in which a month-long jour ney through mountain passes in Nepal is a mere phone call away.

This is what makes Gold Award winner Mountain Travel-Sobek so remarkable. As one judge says, “This catalog answers your questions before you ask them. Your objections are overcome before you realize they were there, and you’re left with no excuses. You have to take a trip with these people.”

Another panelist praises the catalog’s array of adventure trips: “Mountain Travel-Sobek touches all the hot buttons for its baby-boomer target market: cultural encounters, wildlife, adventure.” Whether the book’s readers are looking to plunge down class V rapids in Pakistan, ride camels across the Great Indian Desert, climb high into the Peruvian Andes, or cruise the Antarctic Circle, Mountain Travel-Sobek can make it happen.

While copy can’t help but romance such offers, Mountain Travel-Sobek presents trip details and itineraries in factual and concise tones, rarely missing an opportunity to reinforce the company’s authority by discussing trip histories. “On our first trip to Greece in 1976, Allen Steck, one of Mountain Travel’s founders and guiding lights, created a festive style of adventure travel later known as a `4-D’ trip – drinking, dining, dancing, and debauchery,” begins one passage. And one panelist particularly enjoys the occasional handwritten call-out scrawled across a photograph, such as “Stop at Sona Lodge for a cup of yak butter tea!”

Mountain Travel-Sobek’s customer service policies are predictably well presented and thorough. And more than one judge points out the catalog’s “customer-friendly attitude” and “nonadversarial handling” of service issues.

The biggest compliment the ACA judges confer is their refusal to give back the Mountain Travel-Sobek books they evaluated. One judge waxes poetic: “This catalog penetrates to the very soul of any adventurous, affluent baby boomer.”

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