‘Working here is a reminder of what is important in life.’ – Kari Goetz, Tampa International Airport Marketing Director

‘Working here is a reminder of what is important in life.’ – Kari Goetz, Tampa International Airport Marketing Director

Kari Goetz

Marketing Director, Tampa International Airport

Table #65

Meal: Gouda Grouper ("I'm going to dream about that dish")


What’s the best part of your job?


I like to say that every day I work at the opening scene of the movie, "Love Actually." If I'm feeling stressed, all I have to do is stand by the main terminal arrivals and I can watch people reunited for all sorts of wonderful reasons. Where else can you work where flowers, balloons, welcome home signs and lots of happy running and hugging is the norm? Not many I can think of and that makes working here a constant reminder of what is important in life. 


The Tampa airport has a great reputation. What do you think are its best features?


It's the "hub and spoke" design. Revolutionary 40-plus years ago, it's now the norm for any airport that wants to keep the distance the guest has to walk to a minimum. Other airports will brag about a mile-long terminal, but when you have to traverse that? Not so great. And the people. We have the friendliest staff in any airport in the world. 


You’ve in the midst of a $1 billion construction project. How can a great airport get even better? What’s the completion date?


They say we will be done late 2017. So far, we’ve been keeping to our schedule pretty well. When we’re done, the new restaurant concepts and retail options – as well as a people mover to the economy parking garage and expansive rental car facility – will truly make us one of the greatest airports in the world.


The restaurant lineup is changing considerably as part of that project? You’re going much more local, by design.


Much more local!  [We’ll be] 475 percent more local! We’ll go from four concepts to 19! And that doesn’t count our retail commitment to offering products made by local companies and artists.


You have improv and theater experience. Does that help you in this job?


Yes! And everything I do somehow ties back to my improv training. We like to say that with the master plan we are “changing the tire with the car going 75 mph!” I like to add to that, “And sometimes we do it without a jack!”  We work so fast and so hard that we have to be ready to make changes in the moment. Making it look polished (and not improvised) is where the art comes in.


Do you fly more now?


Yes!  A lot more and I have a lot more passport stamps as well! It’s awesome! 


What’s your second-favorite airport?


I’m pretty fond of Nashville. I borrowed their commitment to live music in the terminals.


What’s your favorite destination?


Key West. It’s where I breathe. I love it there. I know it’s Florida and I should really say something by far more exotic, but the truth is I’m a Florida Girl with sand in my soul and that silly pirate town makes me happy.


Tell us something you learned about the airport that you didn’t know before you worked there.


I didn’t know that TPA was the first automated people mover in the world. We ordered the first cars and the first tracks. We got it even before the PeopleMover at Disney. Oh, which reminds me – we have our own on-site greenhouse! I didn’t know why until I worked here. Supposedly, TPA opened around the same time as the Magic Kingdom and Walt [Disney] got all the good trees. Unable to get the perfect landscaping, our first CEO George Bean insisted that TPA have a self-sufficient greenhouse so we would never have to rely on outside suppliers. There, that’s two things.




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