Overview: The travel management company Inspiration Cruises & Tours coordinates group travel experiences for ministries and churches. Inspiration relies on a variety of printed mailers to introduce passengers to once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences. These travel experiences can be costly, of course. Our job with these catalogs is to promote a first-class experience that matches the vacation dreams of hopeful travelers—helping them see themselves on an unforgettable cruise or tour where Inspiration handles every detail on their behalf.
“How do we set Inspiration apart from other travel companies and opportunities? Market awareness and attention to client and consumer.”
Challenge: For centuries, architects have debated form versus function. That’s a challenge in the graphic design world as well. An art director must find a balance between beauty, layout, and purpose. The appearance of a printed piece might be the easiest element because our travel experiences involve spectacular photography. But this is sales collateral. We have to do more than simply pair pretty photos with empty platitudes about travel. We can’t just rely on stunning photography and hope for the best.
Every year, Inspiration Cruises & Tours sends out a general brochure that acts as a catalog of upcoming events. Destinations vary from Caribbean cruises to Reformation tours of Europe to experiences in the Holy Land. Inspiration’s ministry partners vary as well, with events led by pastors, contemporary musicians, inspirational authors, and other religious leaders. How do we differentiate between events? How do we highlight so many destinations and ministries without confusion? How do we set Inspiration apart from other travel companies and opportunities?
Solution: The answer? Market awareness and attention to client and consumer. Inspiration’s marketing efforts are data-driven. We rely completely on data from previous sales and marketing pieces to steer every effort to reach clients. We test new elements with each mailing and cross-check them with previous results. That helps us determine what text, image, and layout connect most successfully with our audience. Combining these data points (function) with solid design (form) ensures that every mailer, catalog, and brochure hits its mark.
Specifically, I designed the covers to contain three main elements—a promise of enjoyment for a couple (representing cruise travel), a group experience (an archaeological site tour in Israel), and an invitation from big-name event leaders. The cover opened onto a two-age gatefold, with an overview of cruises on the left and tours on the right (a sequence reflected in the name Inspiration Cruises & Tours). We punctuated the soft-touch coating with a spot-gloss UV varnish to make the colors punch in specific places.
Both photos in the gatefold represented purposeful paths a traveler could take: steps toward a distant cruise ship (highlighted with a spot varnish) or through a narrow slot canyon leading to Petra in Jordan (we also spot-varnished the camel), a popular Holy Land excursion. The photos opened to a four-page interior spread describing the Inspiration-organized experiences travelers can’t get anywhere else, followed by listed, bookable travel events over the next 18 months. The final page highlighted destinations and unique moments our travelers could experience.
Result: For the first time ever, Inspiration entered this print piece into the American Advertising Awards competition, known as the Addy Awards. It won a silver award! Inspiration was thrilled with that honor, but because metrics and data are just as important as a beautiful presentation, another outcome pleased the company even more: event bookings increased upon those from previous years’ catalogs.