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 significant financial achievements including an average RevPAR index of 110 over the past five years as well as unprecedented performance in guest loyalty and hotel satisfaction. Best Western has a global network of 4,200 hotels in more than 100 countries and territories worldwide, with annual hotel revenue of almost $8 billion.
Kong is known in the industry as a strategic thinker and innovator. His comprehensive brand strategy includes initiatives such as improving guest experience, stratifying the brand into three tiers to provide clarity to brand offerings, launching new brands to tap into a new generation of travelers and developers and enhancing brand image by establishing marketing partnerships with high profile organizations such as Harley-Davidson, AAA, Disney Channel, Minor League Baseball, Facebook and Google Street View.
Under Kong's leadership, Best Western has set out to be a leader in the internet, mobile and social media space. In 2015, 2,000 new individual property websites were created for all hotels across North America and the brand launched its 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 unveiled its entirely new bestwestern.com that streamlines the booking process, implements smart filters to help travelers find the perfect hotel, and integrates world-class technology, such as Google’s Places API for mapping and nearby attractions. Dynatrace has named bestwestern.com the best hotel website the past five consecutive years, showcasing Best Western’s dedication to delivering the best customer experience possible in an increasingly complex digital world. Best Western was also named as "E-Marketer of the Year" for three consecutive years by Travel Click.
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 four years in a row, Best Western Rewards® was ranked as a top hotel loyalty program by U.S. News & World Report. Additionally, Best Western Plus® and Best Western® ranked in the top three upper-mid-price and mid-price hotel brands by the Business Travel News survey for three years in a row.
In 2015, under Kong’s leadership and vision, Best Western launched a completely reimagined brand identity that modernizes the brand’s image and clarifies its offerings. The new logos signal exciting changes at Best Western including the investment of $2 billion in property improvements and broaden 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" for ten consecutive years and was named “Asia’s Best Mid-Range Hotel Brand” by the Travel Weekly Asia for the past two years.
In 2016, Kong introduced a revolutionary new white label franchise model in the hotel industry – SureStay℠ Hotel Group. SureStay Hotel Group operates as a separate subsidiary while plugging hotel owners into Best Western’s infrastructure and distribution channels. The white label approach allows Best Western to leverage its existing framework while creating a new revenue stream, tapping into the vast opportunities that exist today in the economy space, without compromising the company’s already established position in its current segments.
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.