David Kong, a hospitality industry leader with more than four decades of experience, is guiding Best Western International through a brand resurgence. Since he was named President & CEO in 2004, Kong has led the company to its highest RevPAR Index and unprecedented performance in guest loyalty and hotel satisfaction. Best Western has about 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. He has championed many initiatives to differentiate and grow the brand. The launch of the BEST WESTERN PLUS® and BEST WESTERN PREMIER® descriptors globally in 2011 has won broad industry accolades and enabled Best Western to take market share in both the leisure and business segments. The brand's 2012 introduction of advanced cleaning techniques, utilizing black light and ultra violet wands, has redefined cleanliness in the hotel industry.
Under Kong's leadership, Best Western has set out to be a leader in the Internet, mobile and social media space. Now, Best Western is the number one hotel brand in number of social media followers and its efforts were recognized by Cornell Hotel School as Best Practice for the industry. In addition, Compuware named bestwestern.com and Best Western's mobile website the Best of the Web in 2012 and 2013.
Because of Kong's strong background in international development, Best Western has become one of the largest, fastest-growing and most respected international hotel brands. Best Western has been recognized by TTG Asia as the best midscale hotel chain for the past six consecutive years and also by Brand Keys as the number one midscale hotel chain for customer loyalty for four consecutive years.
In his role as Chairman of the International Executive Committee, Kong has championed global synergy and efficiency by collaborating with its affiliates and master licensees worldwide. The recent launch of Global Account Management has significantly increased revenue from key global accounts.
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. He has also held leadership positions with other hotel brands, including Hyatt Hotels, Omni International, and Hilton Hotels. Kong came to Best Western from KPMG Consulting's hospitality and real estate practice.
A long-time, active member of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA), Kong is a past chair of AH&LA, after serving as its chairman in 2010, its centennial year. Kong also is a member of AH&LA's Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Audit Committee, 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. The board provides counsel to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce on government policies and programs that affect the U.S. travel and tourism industry, and provides a forum for discussing and proposing solutions to industry-related concerns.
Kong received 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.
In 2012, AH&LA Educational Institute presented the Arthur Landstreet Award to Kong for outstanding achievements in education and training. Kong has won other awards including: 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 the Kellogg Graduate School of Management from Northwestern University and has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the Travel Industry Management School at the University of Hawaii.
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