Donte Johnson: “Hospitality creates possibility where there wasn’t any previously”

Started as: Front Desk Agent

Currently: General Manager

To Donte Johnson, working in hospitality is all about empowering access for others. For over 22 years, he has served as a hospitality leader, identifying how to provide opportunities to both his team and his community.

“Access to this industry means access to the world,” says Donte. “You can go anywhere and be anything.”

Originally studying sports journalism in college, Donte entered the business when his aunt, who also worked in hospitality, recommended interviewing at a hotel. Landing first a position as a front desk agent, Donte quickly advanced. In his career, he has held positions as concierge, front desk supervisor, director of guest services, assistant general manager, and general manager.

“The front desk is an excellent entry point because it tends to be the nerve center of the hotel,” says Donte.

Now at his seventh hotel as general manager, Donte spends his days meeting with guests and employees, fine-tuning operations and simply being in the hotel and interacting with people.

“I’d compare being general manager to being the mayor of a small city,” says Donte. “No two days are the same.”

Like many hoteliers discovered, the pandemic presented opportunities to help others in new and unique ways. Donte and his team opened their hotel’s kitchen to restaurants that had opened around March 2020, allowing their business to stay afloat during such a tumultuous time.

“As a team, we showed up for people,” says Donte. “We had a desire to care for people and we made it work.”

Outside of creating access for others, Donte has personally experienced unforgettable moments throughout his two-decade tenure. He took advantage of his travel benefits and visited incredible cities around the world with his family, including Amsterdam, Barcelona, Paris, and Cartagena.

“It’s not just benefits,” says Donte. “It’s the idea that you can get on a plane and go somewhere.”

While each day has unique challenges, Donte cites helping others and his ability to make an impact as key motivations for his lifelong career.

“I love working in hospitality because it’s really about taking care of people,” says Donte. “A lot of us are innately wired to do that and I have the opportunity to do that all day, every day.”