John H. Richardson, general manager of 320 Guest Ranch near Big Sky, Montana, lives and breathes the hotel life, with a father that worked for Sage Hospitality, Marriott and Ritz-Carlton.
“When I tell people I’ve moved around a lot they ask if my dad was in the military and I say, ‘No, he was in the hotel business,” he quipped.
A 20-year hospitality industry veteran, Richardson has worked as the general manager for InterContinental Hotels Group in Fort Smith, Ark., an F&B assistant and general manager in Billings, Mont., as a senior consultant and analyst for Walt Disney Theme Parks and Resorts, and even as a systems engineer, product manager and project manager for hospitality software company SoftBrands.
“I started out at 14 as soon as I could get a job; prep cooking, washing dishes on the weekend, line cook, kitchen manager, front desk agent, catering manager, front desk manager,” he said, adding that he even served as executive chef at 320 over the winter slow season. “The best way to describe me is as a ground-up general manager.”
At 320, located about 30 minutes from Yellowstone National Park and which differentiates itself from its competitors by offering ala carte services that fit group budgets, Richardson is charged with a wide variety of responsibilities. At the end of the day, however, it’s all about the customer service.
“I think a lot of hotels anymore have really gotten away from taking care of the guest. They’re real estate companies with a lot more financial interests than a single owner has,” he said. “We’re really able to put the guest first, which is probably the biggest reason I’m still here and the reason I came here to begin with.”