“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life—and travel—leaves marks on you.”
— Anthony Bourdain

I’m sitting in my office with an advance copy of Nat Hab and WWF’s 2019 Catalog of the World’s Greatest Nature Journeys. A few weeks ago, I returned to Vancouver, British Columbia to oversee its printing, and today, the brand-new 136-page catalog in my hands signifies the departure of last year’s gorilla cover and the debut of one very handsome polar bear (whom I’ve been lovingly referring to as “Barry”).

2019 Catalog press check

But that’s not the only change reflected in our new travel catalog. A whole season of experience, learning, reflecting and improving is on full display in its pages. And I hope you’ll find the changes you see as appealing as I do.

We generally start catalog production in February, rolling out some early concepts and ideas. We review all our marketing collateral, including the seemingly still-fresh catalog from the previous year, and start to spitball ideas of how we can continue to improve our overall message.

Press check for the 2019 catalog

© Mark Hickey

As Nat Hab’s Creative Director, this can be a rather stressful time for me. Just a few months earlier, we had celebrated the printing of the last catalog. We poured our hearts and souls into making that iteration the best possible catalog ever. And we achieved that (I couldn’t love that mountain gorilla cover more!). Yet at Nat Hab, our work is shaped by our company’s Core Ideologies—guiding tenets that allow us to make consistent business decisions based upon predetermined principles. These represent our most deeply held values—why we show up in the morning, what we are committed to, and how we conduct ourselves as a company and as individuals.

One of these Core Ideologies is to Continually Improve as a Company and as Individuals. Thus, the start-up process of a new catalog season usually begins with “Okay…what can we possibly change to make this next catalog even better?”

{Deep breath}

Checking the colors of the 2019 catalog covers

© Mark Hickey

We start with an overall catalog theme or direction—an attempt to instill a sense of wonder and inspiration to all who browse its pages. At the outset, we tear it down and build it back up, beginning with a fresh canvas and playing with page layout. This is the 16th catalog I’ve designed for Nat Hab, and some general rules always apply. We don’t change the main ingredients, but we find ways to simplify while adding more spice—enhancing the overall presentation, scouring our libraries for even more riveting images, upgrading the written content, refining the overall flow…

{Deep breath}

Reviewing every detail of the 2019 catalog

© Mark Hickey

Out of our brainstorming sessions came this focus: Nature is inspirational. Nature keeps body, mind and spirit healthy. Nature travel is good for you.

This year, we tried to get excess text out of the way and let nature shine through. I hope you too will find this catalog gorgeous to look at. It features stunning images that jump off its pages. It is printed on 100-percent post-consumer waste (PCW), Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified paper. That means 100 percent of the material the catalog is printed on was formerly someone else’s copy paper, direct mail flyer, billing statement or magazine. The catalog material is 100-percent reused, 100-percent re-purposed, in keeping with another Nat Hab Core Ideology: Consistently Raise the Bar on Conservation. Check.

{Celebratory clap}

Envelope for the World Wildlife Fund 2019 nature travel catalog

2019 catalog envelope image © Wim van den Heever / NPL / Minden Pictures

The catalog highlights 68 of our trips in vibrant color. Once more, we featured four World Wildlife Fund conservation success stories, as well as a dozen or so WWF in Action blurbs, keeping conservation at the top of mind for our readers and maintaining our status as one of the leading conservation travel providers in the industry. We hope our new catalog leaves a mark on you, inspiring you to get out and discover—and protect—this amazing planet.

So much thought, time and effort goes into every aspect of the catalog. It truly is an amazing team effort. Writers. Photographers. Designers. Artists. Image Databases. Destination Managers. Trip Owners. Adventure Concierges. Pressman. Data. Lists. Pricing. Dates. Numbers. Ink. Postage. Shipping. So many talented cooks in our collective kitchen work for months to make this project happen.*

I say this every year, but I truly feel this is our best effort to date. The process works—and in a few short months we will start it…all over…again.

{Deep breath!}

Front cover World Wildlife Fund 2019 nature travel catalog

2019 catalog front cover image © Paul Souders / Minden Pictures

* The 2019 catalog is designed by Mark Hickey and Devin Law. Written by Wendy Redal, Jennie Lay, Ben Bressler, Mark Hickey, Ted Martens, Sandy Shannon, Sarah Raby, Tricia Brennan, Anne Avellana, Renata Haas, Ami Jones, Conor Frantzen, Sara Higgins, Kate Willingham, Emily Kleinburd, Justin Brown, Kit Longnecker and Nick Grossman. 2019 catalog front cover image © Paul Souders / Minden Pictures. Back cover image © Vincent Grafhorst / Minden Pictures.

This guest post was written by Natural Habitat Adventures Creative Director Mark Hickey.