Posts by: Jackie Caradonio

Jackie Caradonio is the travel editor for Robb Report magazine. In her role, she oversees all travel content for both the monthly print editions and She also spearheads the magazine’s annual Travel Issue, and in 2018, helped launch Robb Report’s first issue of the women’s publication Muse. Beyond covering the latest hotel and resort openings, Jackie’s primary focus is to produce exploratory narratives that spotlight exotic destinations and unusual adventures, from foraging in the Brazilian Amazon to spearfishing in Fiji. Before joining the editorial team at Robb Report, Jackie traveled the world as a freelance writer, contributing to Travel + Leisure, National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times, and other publications.

The Secrets to Communicating Your Brand Uncovered

The Secrets to Communicating Your Brand Uncovered

Following the success of the Leaders of Luxury web series, we’re working with Robb Report once again. Continuing our look into the future of luxury through the eyes of those who are determining it, Jackie Caradonio, Travel Editor at Robb Report, uncovers the tools that great communicators need to sell their brand. 

You’ve got a message. But can you deliver it?

We all know that communication is the key to success. So then why are so many of us so bad at it? Turns out, being able to effectively talk about your product or service isn’t quite so easy. But there are secrets out there that successful CEOs, entrepreneurs, actors, and performers use to keep their audience hanging on their every word. And the man behind those secrets is Michael Hopkins. For more than 20 years, the founder of Hopkins Media Training has been directing celebrities, editors, and high-level executives in the techniques of communication and delivery. Here, Hopkins shares with us the crucial tools that great speakers use to draw their audience in—and how everyone can apply them to their own professional success.

What’s the most important thing we need to do in order to ensure that what we’re communicating—whether a sales pitch, a speech, or a presentation—will effectively reach our audience?

The first thing you need to do when communicating something—anything—is to create a structure. Frame every conversation for the person you are speaking to. This not only helps you to be prepared with what you are going to say, but it also prepares your audience for what they are about to hear. You see this on all the news and entertainment shows: They give you a headline first, then a few highlights of what they are about to tell you. Once your audience knows what to expect, you know that they’re listening.

The second thing is connection: Find your connection to the story. Why are you excited about it? If you are pitching me a hotel or a service, you have to be excited about it and connected to it. If you’re not excited about it, the game is already over. Don’t waste an opportunity—tell me something meaningful. Sell it like you mean it. If you don’t mean it, people will sniff that out.

What’s your biggest advice when it comes to speaking to an audience or important client?

My biggest advice would be don’t try to wing it. If you try to wing it because you think it’s going to be more authentic, you are going to fall flat. I can give you all the speaking tips in the world, but then the work is on you to spend the time practicing, either in front of a mirror or with a friend. You can read something over and over in your head but until you stand on your two feet and say it out loud and get excited about it, you’re not prepared.

Tell us about the power of the pause.

The pause is a vital part of speaking that people don’t use often enough. Effective communication is all about intonation and pace. People tend to speak in what are essentially run-on sentences. When we’re communicating verbally, we need to use the same types of punctuation and grammar as we would when we write. The pause is the most important tool because it allows your audience to keep up with you and follow along with what you’re saying. It also keeps you in control: Put your foot on the gas, then brake. Are they still with you? If so, put your foot back on that gas.

It sounds like checking in with your audience is an important part of delivering a successful speech or pitch.

It’s so important to gauge the audience or person listening to you whenever you’re speaking. There’s this mentality that if you say it quickly, people won’t have time to lose interest. But if you rush through it, you miss the point. We’re so worried about presenting all of the information that we practiced, and the information that we think is important. But we always need to remember, what is the audience getting out of it? What are they listening for? Do they want that great trip or amazing experience? That’s why you’re there.

What’s one of the biggest communication mistakes that everybody makes?

Body language: How do I stand? What do I do with my hands? People feel self-conscious when all of the attention is on them, but I always bring them back to the importance of the connection. If you are telling a story, and you are excited about it—you are connected to it—you are authentically telling a story. You don’t wonder what do with your body. That’s why it so important to have that connection to every pitch, presentation, and performance because if you have that, you can lose yourself in it a bit. And everything else—your hand gestures, the way you stand—will fall into place.

What about social media? How can we use it as a successful communication and marketing tool?  

Social media like Instagram is really just a shorter version of what you should already be doing, which is to tell a story. An Instagram or Facebook post still needs a story—there has to be an angle behind it. Why are you telling the story? Are you doing it to sell something—or are you doing it to get me excited about something? People can tell the difference. Think of yourself as a storyteller in everything you do, and people won’t be able to ignore you.

As a regular contributor for View from ILTM, Jackie will be sharing her insights on luxury and travel throughout the year. Check back next month for Jackie’s latest view

The Luxury Paradox

The Luxury Paradox

Following the success of the Leaders of Luxury web series, we’re working with Robb Report once again. Continuing our look into the future of luxury through the eyes of those who are determining it, Jackie Caradonio, Travel Editor at Robb Report, gives us her take on the L word.

In a world in which the word “luxury” is applied to anything and everything, high-end hospitality brands must develop meaningful and authentic new ways to connect with consumers.  

It has been more than 10 years since Andrew Sacks, a New York–based expert on high-end marketing, told a room full of hoteliers at the Leading Hotels of the World’s annual conference in Monaco that “luxury” was “dead.” He wasn’t talking about the concept—to be sure, a decade later, we know that luxury is very much alive and well. He was, however, talking about the word. The term was so overused, it had virtually lost all meaning, Sacks argued. It had become “a descriptor that is highly suspicious to the very people to whom it is designed to appeal: the affluent.”

Ten years later, the L word is no less pervasive. And it has indeed lost much of its power. Between luxury pet spas, luxury diaper bags, luxury dentists, and luxury keychains (yes, these all claim to exist), it seems everyone and everything is geared toward the good life—or at least the perception of it. As such, truly high-end brands are left with a conundrum: How do you convey luxury in a world where everything claims to be luxurious?

For Jumeirah Hotels, the answer is making its brand synonymous with luxury, without actually using the word. “The term ‘luxury’ has become diluted and perhaps depreciated through its overuse in the hotel industry,” concedes Charlie Taylor, Jumeirah’s group director of brand communications. To combat that, Taylor says his brand created what it calls “the Jumeirah experience,” a combination of bespoke and locally-inspired experiences and traditional five-star hotel service and style—something that captures the modern-day ethos of luxury travel without explicitly saying it.

Other brands have moved away from the L word to create a similar alignment with luxury that sidesteps the actual term. JW Marriott created what it calls the “JW Marriott Treatment” while Conrad Hotels has replaced its old slogan of “The Luxury of You” with the more demonstrative one “Never Just Stay. Stay Inspired.” Oberoi Hotels and Park Hyatt have also dropped slogans using the word. And Ritz-Carlton—a brand whose very name has become synonymous with luxury—coined the phrase “Ladies and Gentlemen Serving Ladies and Gentleman.”

Of course, these strategies are more than reactions to luxury fatigue. They are proof that the very definition of luxury, especially as it pertains to the hospitality industry, has changed. It’s no longer necessarily defined simply by opulence or extravagance—two words that, in their own rights, have become less appealing to luxury travelers in recent years. Rather, luxury as a word has taken on a unique meaning for every brand—and person.

“The challenge of today is that where luxury was once prescribed, today it means different things to different people,” says Lisa Holladay, Ritz-Carlton’s global brand leader. “We focus less on telling guests they will receive a luxury experience and instead work to show guests the luxury of the experience the Ritz-Carlton provides.”

There is, of course, a common thread here: experience. Each of these new slogans and marketing approaches leans in to the individual brand’s unique ability to promise not only a beautiful place to stay, but far more importantly, memorable experiences. To achieve that, the goal for every brand is to show—not tell—their consumers how they can offer personally fulfilling and meaningful experiences beyond the traditional five-star stay.

With that goal, a new language of luxury has emerged, relying no longer on the touting of objects and visual cues but instead tapping into emotions. Jumeirah uses the word “rituals” to define the experiences that make a stay with its hotels unique. Ritz-Carlton uses the term “wow moments” in its newest “Let Us Stay with You” campaign. And Park Hyatt defines its hotels as “places where rare and unexpected pleasures are artfully woven into every stay.”

For Wilderness Safaris, this new emotional approach led to a slogan that boldly attempts to redefine luxury altogether. “Purpose is the New Luxury” expresses the safari outfitter’s goal to immerse its guests in the local conservation and community efforts in each of the countries in which it operates lodges. “We don’t do high-end ecotourism for the sake of it, but rather for the positive impacts it can and does achieve,” says Chris Roche, Wilderness’s chief marketing officer. “For us, the challenge has been to connect our purpose to the guest experience and to share this with them.”

Thus, Wilderness set out to classify its own brand of luxury—one that emphasizes space, discovery, genuine personal engagement, disconnection from the modern world, and simplicity. “When we first came up with the statement ‘Purpose is the New Luxury,’ we treated it with caution,” Roche explains. “But the more we considered it, the more we felt that in the modern world, purpose really is the antithesis of utility, and thus in some way embodies real luxury.”

To be sure, buzzwords will forever plague the high-end hospitality industry. Not far behind “luxury” is the overuse of words like “experiential,” “bespoke,” and “transformational.” The antidote to such deterioration of meaning, then, is for each brand to define its own purpose—and the unique language that communicates it. “Even though we all proudly and boldly claim to operate in the luxury space,” Roche says. “It is far too seldom that we ask ourselves what luxury means, and what it really is.” Now’s the time to ask—and answer.

As a regular contributor for View from ILTM, Jackie will be sharing her insights on luxury travel throughout the year. Check back next month for Jackie’s latest view.