Craig Schoninger is the director of marketing at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and The Lodge & Club.
Can you please briefly tell us about your background?
I joined Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and The Lodge & Club as director of marketing in June 2017. Prior to this, I was the director of sales and marketing for Montage Palmetto Bluff located in Bluffton, South Carolina. While there, we quadrupled the resort from 50 cottages to 200 rooms, suites and cottages. Before joining Montage Hotels and Resorts, I was with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company for the majority of my career. My most recent assignments included director of sales and marketing at The Ritz Carlton, South Beach; The Ritz-Carlton, Aruba; The Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach; and The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. I was a member of the pre-opening team of The Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island and eventually became the director of sales and marketing in 2002.
What are your primary roles and responsibilities?
As director of marketing for both Ponte Vedra Inn & Club and The Lodge & Club, I am responsible for developing and implementing strategies to strengthen the market presence and maximize top line revenue of the two resorts. This is done in part through the development and implementation of creative advertising campaigns, digital marketing strategies and printed materials. As social media has become a key component of hotel marketing, I have someone on my team who is responsible for managing content and presence on all social platforms. My team and I are responsible for maintaining our website as this is our most valuable marketing channel. Additionally, I work closely with a marketing manager as well as three graphic artists who are responsible for producing communication materials for all of our four private clubs.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
While I know this sounds like a cliché, I truly get my energy from working with hospitality professionals. We are in the business of making guests and members happy, and helping them create long-lasting memories for themselves and their families. Every day I am lucky enough to come to work in an incredibly beautiful place where I take advantage of amazing views of the ocean and golf courses! Being new to these properties, I really enjoy bringing new ideas to the table that help the properties be even more successful than they have been.
What distinguishes your resorts from others?
In 2018 we are celebrating our 90-year anniversary at Ponte Vedra Inn & Club. We have a great lineup of events planned to help celebrate this amazing milestone. Many of our team members have been a part of the resort for 30 plus years, which is virtually unheard of these days in the hospitality business. Also unique is that we are caring for both resort guests and club members. We are so fortunate to have a base of membership who again have so many years of history here. The legacy business here is truly remarkable.
What are the biggest challenges currently facing the hospitality industry?
The acquisition of new guests and retention of good employees are two of the biggest challenges facing our industry. Fortunately for us, we are considered an employer of choice; we work very hard to make sure our employees are happy and well cared for. When they are happy, they take great care of our guests and members, which keeps our guests coming back and allows our business to grow.
What do you enjoy most about living on the First Coast?
I am very fortunate to have an abundance of great friends and family in the area. It has been great to see the energy of the city grow over the last few years. Both the dining and entertainment scenes have improved so much since I moved away seven years ago. Of course the natural beauty of the area is incredible – the color of the sky during sunset will literally take my breath away, as will the rising sun over the beach in the morning. I am also a huge fan of the Jacksonville Symphony orchestra – we are so fortunate to have such an amazing orchestra in our city!