Travel, Silver Award: Mountain Travel-Sobek, 2001

With its gorgeous photos of destinations around the world, Mountain Travel-Sobek has more in common with National Geographic magazine than with a traditional catalog, said one judge. “The cultural and environmental photography carries through a sense that this is much more than a travel catalog,” said another. The photographs really put the reader on the trip, added a third panelist, noting that the oversize (9″ × 12″) format of the catalog works well.

But while some panelists appreciated the adventure magazine feel of the front cover, others didn’t find it effective. Perhaps a single image, rather than multiple photos, would have been more compelling, said a judge. And some sort of “call to action” may have enticed even more readers to open the book.

Also in keeping with the magazine feel, the Mountain Travel-Sobek catalog includes ads. Not surprisingly, not all of the judges approved. “To me, it’s an affront to the customer,” said one panelist.

Yet the sheer variety of exotic trips is sure to satisfy readers with wanderlust. The vacations accommodate many kinds of people, said one panelist, “from families to wildlife lovers to those looking for a really strenuous trip.” Trips are categorized by geographic regions, and the color bars that run along the side and bottom of each page make it easy to navigate through the catalog.

The copy is believable and authoritative, agreed the judges. Although “written for an educated, affluent reader,” said a panelist, the copy is still approachable — and educational. Here’s an example: “It’s hard to think of Mongolia without imagining Genghis Khan (‘universal leader’), the warrior who with his Golden Horde of horse soldiers forged the largest contiguous land empire in recorded history….” The customer testimonials also received kudos, although one judge said, “They could have been effectively carried through the catalog to create more interest and sell the individual trips.”

The president’s letter mentions that Mountain Travel-Sobek has been in business for 30 years, which is important to customers investing a few thousand dollars in a trip, said a judge. But another panelist pondered the existence — and placement — of some sort of guarantee; the same judge felt the company hours, Website address, and phone number should be more prominent.

But in all, this catalog “has a real sincerity to it, a sense that these are people who love what they’re doing, and believe in it,” said a panelist. Another judge said that Mountain Travel-Sobek makes “shopping for the trip half the fun.” And that’s a true Silver Award-winning achievement.

Mountain Travel-Sobek
6420 Fairmont Ave.
El Cerrito, CA 94530
Company founded/catalog
launched: 1969
Director: Dena Bartolome
Designers: Chris Bettencourt,
John Finger
Copywriter: Dena Bartolome
Marketing manager: Robyn Gorman
Printer: Overseas Printing Corp.
Color separator: Quebecor World
Cover paper: 250 GSM
Text paper: 100 GSM
Number of pages: 148
Trim size: 9″ × 12″

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