President of lodging and residential at CSM Corp.
Armed with 30-plus years of experience in the hotel industry, Bill Upshaw joined Minneapolis-based CSM Corp. this summer as president of lodging and residential. Upshaw is responsible for acquisition and management of CSM's lodging and residential properties. CSM owns 37 hotels and about 20 residential properties nationwide.
Upshaw, who got his start with Marriott International, was most recently president and COO of Santa Monica, Calif.-based Windsor Capital Group, where he oversaw hotel operations, strategic objectives and partnership relationships.
QWhat opportunities do you see with CSM?
ACSM is healthy; it has a good balance sheet, and there's an appetite to grow and for me that was attractive. And secondly, I had spent a lot of time with Gary Holmes (CSM president and CEO) and met a lot of the people here. I was interviewing them as hard as they were interviewing me. ... I felt like it was a talented group that I could work with.
QIs CSM looking to expand its lodging/residential portfolio?
AWe're gearing up a little bit. We're bringing in some folks who have acquisition and development backgrounds. Those folks will help me look at deals and decide if there are things we want to buy, and at the same time, we'll evaluate our existing portfolio.
QWhat will CSM target?
AWe're looking at a little more institutional-quality asset. We're going to be looking at a little bit bigger size of hotel and maybe shift a little toward the full-service hotel model rather than the smaller, limited-service model. But that doesn't happen overnight. ...The problem with the acquisition side is you have to kiss 100 frogs to find a prince.
QHow competitive is this business?
AVery. You have to continue to give customers what they're looking for. We're investing a significant amount of money back into our existing properties.
QWhat are they looking for?
ATechnology. We're finding that one of the big buying decisions in staying in our hotels is the availability of Wi-Fi and how well it works, because everybody and his brother travels with an iPad or laptop. ... Also, people are looking for a more casual dining experience rather than fine dining. You have to shift your offerings based on the way the public is shifting.
Liz Wolf is an Eagan-based freelance writer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.