David Kong is a hospitality industry leader with more than four decades of experience. Since he was named president & CEO of Best Western International in 2004, Kong has led the company to its highest RevPAR Index of 110 the past three years as well as unprecedented performance in guest loyalty and hotel satisfaction. Best Western has nearly 4,200 hotels in over 110 countries with annual hotel revenue exceeding $6 billion.
Kong is known in the industry as a strategic thinker and innovator. His comprehensive brand strategy includes initiatives such as stratifying the brand into three tiers, raising standards, launching new brands and establishing marketing partnerships with high profile organizations such as Harley-Davidson and Facebook.
Under Kong's leadership, Best Western has set out to be a leader in the Internet, mobile and social media space. Compuware named bestwestern.com the best hotel website the past three years. In 2013, EyeForTravel named Best Western's mobile site as the industry's best, Travel Click named Best Western "E-Marketer of the Year" in 2012 and 2013, and L2 named Best Western the best in e-commerce in the hotel industry.
With Kong's background and involvement in sales and marketing, Best Western won 20 HSMAI Adrian Awards and 26 Travel Weekly Magellan awards in 2013 – the most won in the travel industry. AAA has recognized Best Western as the "Partner of the Year" every year since 2008. In 2014, Best Western Rewards® was named the top loyalty program by Loyalty 360, the third best hotel loyalty program by U.S. News & World Report, and received the American Express Loyalty Award. The BEST WESTERN® and BEST WESTERN PLUS® hotels were voted the Best Midscale and Best Upper Midscale Hotel Chains in the 2014 Business Travel News survey.
Kong has spearheaded international development with expansion focus on Asia, South America and the Middle East. With over 200 hotels in Asia, Best Western has been recognized by TTG Asia with the "Best Midscale Hotel Chain" award every year since 2007.
His career at Best Western includes serving as executive vice president of international operations, senior vice president of marketing and development, as well as senior vice president of strategic services and operations. Kong has also held leadership positions with KPMG Consulting, Hyatt Hotels, Omni International and Hilton Hotels.
A long-time, active member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), Kong served as its chairman in 2010, its centennial year. Kong continues to be active on the CEO Council and Government Affairs Council. In 2010, Kong was appointed to the United States Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board and served for three years.
Kong received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI) in 2014 and also the 2013 Stephen W. Brener Silver Plate Award at the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference for his contributions to the resurgence of Best Western and services to the industry. Kong was also inducted into the University of Hawaii's Hall of Honor in 2013.
Kong has won other prestigious awards including: the Arthur Landstreet Award, the Education Institute's highest award; the AH&LA Lawson Odde Award for hospitality leadership; the J. Patrick Leahy Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Illinois Hotel and Lodging Association; the Award of Excellence presented by the Asian American Hotel Owners Association; and the Lifetime Hotelier Leadership Award presented by Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management.
Kong completed the Executive Development Program at Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Management and has a bachelor's degree in business administration from the Travel Industry Management School at the University of Hawaii.
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