David Kong is a hospitality industry leader with deep experience in the industry. Since he was named president & CEO of Best Western Hotels & Resorts in 2004, Kong has led the company to tremendous financial achievements including an average RevPAR index of 110 over the past four years as well as unprecedented performance in guest loyalty and hotel satisfaction. Best Western has over 4,000 hotels in over 100 countries with annual hotel revenue of almost $7 billion.
Kong is known in the industry as a strategic thinker and innovator. His comprehensive brand strategy includes initiatives such as raising standards, stratifying the brand into three tiers, 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. In August 2015, new property websites were created for all properties across North America and the brand launched our new mobile booking experience, including a mobile website and mobile apps for smart phones and tablets, to provide a cleaner, uncluttered interface that is easy to use. In 2016, Best Western will unveil its entirely new bestwestern.com. Compuware has named bestwestern.com the best hotel website the past four consecutive years and Travel Click has named Best Western "E-Marketer of the Year" the past three consecutive years.
With Kong's background and involvement in sales and marketing, Best Western won 50 HSMAI Adrian Awards in 2015 setting a new record for the brand. AAA has recognized Best Western as the "Partner of the Year" every year since 2008. For three years in a row, Best Western Rewards® was named a top three hotel loyalty program by U.S. News & World Report. The program was also ranked in the top three by J.D. Power’s 2015 Hotel Loyalty/Rewards Program Satisfaction Report℠. Best Western Plus® hotels were voted the Best Upper Midscale Hotels in the 2014 and 2015 Business Travel News survey. Additionally, Best Western was voted the No. 1 Midprice hotel in 2014 and ranked in the top 3 in 2015.
In 2015, under Kong’s leadership and vision, Best Western launched a completely reimagined brand identity that clarifies the brand’s offerings, highlights the investment of $2 billion in property improvements by hotels and broadens the brand’s appeal with a contemporary and relevant look. The company now offers seven hotel brands including two new concepts - GLō℠, a broad-midscale construction brand that offers a hip experience for savvy travelers and Vīb®, a chic, hip, urban hotel concept focused on style, technology and guest engagement. This logo change was ranked in first place in Time Magazine’s Top 10 Logo Changes in 2015.
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. 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.
The Lifetime Achievement Award
from the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International
Kong has been recognized with 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.