The Mint Collection: Refining and Inspiring Narrative Travel
I am excited to share an interview I did with Julia Cardamone, Founder & CEO of The Mint Collection, a boutique hotel representation company that connects the world’s most refined small hotels to the most discerning travel advisors. Below you can read more about her career in the Travel & Hospitality industry, her entrepreneurship journey and her clients - two incredible boutique hotels.
Julie, can you tell us more about your career in the Travel & Hospitality industry - where did you start and how did you find your passion for this industry?
The first position I held that had to do with travel was when I worked at a college sports marketing company in NC as their Travel Coordinator. I handled all travel arrangements for the company. Fast forward a couple years and now in NJ, I happened upon the world of leisure travel and began working for a hotel representation company that worked with hotels all around the world. This position provided me so many amazing opportunities to not only travel the world, but to step outside my comfort zone and promote the properties through sales presentations at travel agencies throughout the US and Canada. While in this position, my heart was really drawn towards the boutique, family-owned properties that had endless stories to tell. And that new found passion is what drove me to start my own boutique hotel representation company in 2018. I launched The Mint Collection because after working in the leisure travel industry for many years and observing how the industry is changing, I recognized that there was a better, more efficient way to provide representation services to today's five-star boutique properties.
Can you explain more about what a representation company does?
The Mint Collection, a storybook anthology, connects the world’s most refined small hotels to the most discerning travel advisors. Together with each property partner, I craft a narrative that pulls at the hearts and minds of travel advisors, who then share the ineffable magic of the properties with their clients. Throughout the process, I highlight the unique allure of each property to increase its standing within the United States and Canadian markets.
Together with each property partner, I craft a narrative that pulls at the hearts and minds of travel advisors, who then share the ineffable magic of the properties with their clients
I leverage a combination of sales and marketing strategies to develop personal, one-on-one relationships with top advisors. Combined with a clear social media strategy, this multi-dimensional marketing approach increases brand awareness and bookings for my clients, the boutique properties.
My goal is to elevate each property above the crowd of choices within the minds of advisors and travelers. My motto, Refining and Inspiring Narrative Travel, captures this vision of a refined, authentic experience of travel and hospitality.
When was the moment that you decided to start The Mint Collection?
It’s kind of like that old saying - “If you love what you are doing, you’ll never work another day in your life.” I discovered that if I am passionate about a property, it doesn’t feel like I’m trying to ‘sell’ anything. I’m simply sharing that passion and love with others. So in early 2018, I decided to take a huge leap and listen to that inner dialog (aka - confidence) and start the process of creating my own collection of boutique properties that I am completely enthralled with.
One thing that we have in common is that we both believe in the power of storytelling. Can you tell me more about how storytelling is important to your company?
There is a reason why we can’t always recall the details of a place - exact location, size of room, or even people’s names. But we do remember, quite easily, what we experienced. What we ate. What we saw. That is why storytelling is so important for the success of The Mint Collection and my partner properties. Today’s traveler wants to be ‘in the know’ more than ever. They want to know what they should expect when they arrive. What their options are as far as activities. What unique experiences they might have while on property. So it is my goal to share those types of details with travel advisors so that they can more easily educate their clients, the traveler.
And let’s be honest - this type of storytelling is what inspires travel. When we focus on intimate, authentic experiences which emphasize the local allure of travel, it ignites a thirst to experience a place first-hand.
Would you mind telling us more about the service you provide to your clients? How does The Mint Collection differentiate itself from other representation companies?
With The Mint Collection, my structure and strategy are quite different from the traditional representation company. Not only do I offer a customized, multi-dimensional marketing and sales approach - I also strengthen each Minted properties’ brand through its association with a harmonious handful of hotels.
By partnering with me, each property will be receiving focused and tailored representation that is so difficult to find, but which is crucial for marketing these boutique properties. Today, travel advisors are overwhelmed with information (just as the direct consumer is) - so after much discussion with some of the top advisors here in the United States, I have structured my company in a way that will not only grab their attention but will meet them 'where' they are through social media and personal connections.
By partnering with me, each property will be receiving focused and tailored representation that is so difficult to find, but which is crucial for marketing these boutique properties.
One thing I've learned over the last couple years is that like their clients, the advisor wants to feel appreciated and not just one of ten thousand who received the exact same email blast. And by acknowledging this, I'm able to provide my clients with a service that will actually result in bookings.
And last but not least, can you tell me more about the current boutique hotels you are working with? I think our readers would love to see some pictures of the hotels!
Yes! The Pitcher Inn, in Warren (Vermont), is a three-hour drive from Boston. It is family owned and operated and a Relais & Chateaux* property. With its well-appointed suites and guest rooms, 11 in total, exceptional fine dining, and attentive staff, The Pitcher Inn is a magical escape.
The Winvian Farm, in Litchfield Hills (Connecticut), is a two-hour drive from New York City and the perfect place to escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city. This family-owned and managed Relais & Chateaux property lacks nothing. From Chef Eddy's seed-to-table philosophy to the restorative treatments and therapies within its spa, Winvian Farm's guests experience the unexpected while staying at this absolutely extraordinary New England luxury retreat. Best of all, with 18 individually designed cottages + the Hadley Suite, no two stays at Winvian are alike.
*Relais & Châteaux is “an association of more than 550 landmark hotels and restaurants operated by independent innkeepers, chefs, and owners.
I would like to thank Julie for the incredible interview. I am looking forward to welcoming you back in Atlanta!