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Omaha Magazine

Man on a Mission: Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel's Brandon Peterson Serves Guests and Others

Feb 01, 2022 11:51AM ● By Wendy Townley
brandon petersen in hotel lobby

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

While spending six months in Guatemala on a mission trip, working with a group called Youth With a Mission, Brandon Peterson discovered the joy of serving others.

Peterson, who grew up near Indianapolis, traveled the streets of Guatemala with other volunteers daily, seeing children and teens playing soccer or performing break dance routines. He saw firsthand the impact of reaching out—offering a helping hand or just a conversation, being someone who could listen.

The half-year experience left its mark. Peterson sees strong similarities between his work in Guatemala and his career in hotel management: “Everything is a little different each day, but there is structure and an overall goal. In both instances, there is structure without the confines of a daily schedule.”  

Before graduating from high school, Peterson entered the world of hospitality. At 17, he helped open a Comfort Suites in downtown Indianapolis. Peterson was helping travelers and guests with a wide range of responsibilities—front desk duties, housekeeping, and other random jobs. 

“There’s not many organizations where you have such a melting pot among such a small team: housekeeping, front desk, restaurant, management, accounting,” Peterson said. “It’s like this mini company, where you have all different walks of life and in a small square footage of space.”

Peterson’s mother, a single parent raising Peterson and his two sisters, spent her career in hotels and hospitality. He recalls the experiences and memories his mother’s profession provided on a regular basis.

“Growing up, my mom was in hotels my entire life,” he said. “Looking at my single mom, raising three kids, I always admired everything that she did. She had to attend meetings, but there was fun stuff, too. To a kid, it was all very interesting.”

Following high school, Peterson moved to Minneapolis and attended North Central University. During the second semester of his freshman year, Peterson took a hotel job and worked overnights full-time until he graduated in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in
business administration.

Most often his work days began at 11 p.m., and ended around 7 a.m. He’d then travel to campus for class and complete homework during the day. 

“I rarely slept,” Peterson recalled with a laugh. “My professors understood I was getting real life, practical work experience. That was the best way I could learn.” 

In early 2020, months before the country and the rest of the world began feeling the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Peterson visited Omaha for three days. He was considering a permanent move and a new position with the Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel in Omaha’s bustling Blackstone district. Omaha wasn’t initially atop his list of transfer destinations, but Peterson discovered Nebraska’s largest city would make a great home. 

“I love to travel, but the Midwest is where I’m at,” he said. “I wanted something close to home, near Minneapolis. I fell in love with the Blackstone district.”

As far as the Kimpton, its century of history also proved intriguing for Peterson: “There’s not many moments where you get 100 years of history mixed with so much redesign. You walk into the building and just know that it’s original and historic.”

More than a year later, working at Kimpton as associate director of sales, Peterson has found a home and a solid team, said his manager,
James Schelnick.

“Brandon has an inherent ability to lead and work collaborative with others,” said Schelnick, who serves as the hotel’s director of sales and marketing. “He has been an incredible source of support, creativity, and logic, while always offering commentary with grace and humor.”

Visit thecottonwoodhotel.com for more information.

This article originally appeared in the February/March 2022  issue of B2B Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

Photo by Bill Sitzmann
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