College of Human Sciences alumna
Kari Stinehour, a native of Marietta, Ga., is a destination and concierge services specialist for The World Residences at Sea, the largest privately owned yacht on the planet. She earned a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Auburn University's College of Human Sciences in December 2009. During her senior year, Stinehour worked in the banquet department of The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center and took part in a competitive internship program at The High Museum of Art in Atlanta. She then landed an internship aboard The World, which has led to full-time employment. According to HRMT faculty, The World recruits from only a small number of carefully selected hospitality management programs in the world. Only two schools from the U.S. currently meet their criteria, one of which is Auburn. Stinehour was employed by The World's corporate office when it made its historic journey in 2012 through the Northwest Passage, becoming the largest passenger vessel ever to sail the route through the Arctic Ocean. Since it first set sail in 2002, The World has visited more than 800 ports in approximately 140 countries.
1. Why did you choose Auburn and its HRMT program?
I chose Auburn University for two reasons. Some of my family members attended Auburn so continuing that legacy was important to me. I grew up feeling pride for the school and its programs. I specifically chose HRMT because of its "boutique" style approach. Its small class sizes and well-rounded curriculum are paired with a focus on "southern hospitality." It fit my priorities very well to be educated on both the business side and the service side of the industry.
2. How did you end up on The World?
After being honored to speak to the HRMT Advisory Board as a senior, I was introduced to members of The World. After a thorough interview process and support from the leaders of the HRMT program, I was selected as a hotel management intern. The World had a long legacy of providing top students from around the world the chance to train onboard, but had never selected an intern from the United States. I was very proud to be one of the first.
3. What kinds of different jobs have you had on board? What are your current responsibilities?
I started at The World as a hotel management intern, in a rotational program with managers from food and beverage, hotel stores, housekeeping, front office/reception, concierge, land programs, onboard enrichment programs and human resources departments. After the internship, I was selected to join the team in the food and beverage department, a large operation that encompasses six restaurants, four bars and an extensive special event component. I started as a restaurant hostess, and then was promoted to food and beverage administrator.
After almost two years onboard, I was then asked to transfer to the corporate office in South Florida to join the operations department, which encompasses hotel operations, port operations, itinerary planning, destination and concierge services, and enrichment programs. As the operations administrative assistant, I supported all areas and focused on standard operating procedures, our product defect resolution system, as well as new initiatives and ongoing support for destination services.
In January 2013, I was promoted to destination and concierge services specialist, where I am responsible for designing unique, tailored destination experiences around the globe for residents and guests of The World, which are based on their personal preferences.
4. What's it like to live and work in such a unique place? What kind of places have you gotten to see because of your job?
Working on The World while she circumnavigates the globe is invigorating because "bringing the destination alive" is always a component of each day, no matter your role. As a food and beverage administrator, I worked with regional menus and coordinated events for residents hosting shoreside visitors. I also assisted with zodiac landings ashore in remote locales such as Madagascar and Antarctica, escorted residents on a unique destination experience through Croatia's Cetina River Canyon and rushed out for local products in large cosmopolitan cities like Istanbul, Rio de Janeiro, Venice and London.
Working in the corporate office is just as dynamic. In the upcoming year, I will be designing destination experiences for the ship's calls in Spain, France, Bulgaria, Australia, Philippines, Japan, China and Singapore, several of which are scheduled for 2014.
The World also connects people of diverse cultures. I work alongside employees from around the globe and have had the pleasure of meeting extraordinary individuals through my travels. One of my favorite memories was having the pleasure of meeting Auburn Olympic Swimmer Kirsty Coventry during our call to Monte Carlo. Sharing a War Eagle moment with her so far from home was absolutely indescribable.
5. What are your future career plans?
I would love to continue growing in my new role in destination services. As a young professional, The World provides me with a new challenge every day, and I love that. The travel industry as a whole is also very dynamic and full of possibilities. Right now, one of my major focuses is continuing my education by obtaining an MBA in international business.
In the future, I plan to one day start my own company within the realm of travel and hospitality. I love thinking of new creative ways of simplifying processes for people. Hopefully my notebook of ideas that continues to grow will one day become a reality in some way.