David Kong is an industry leader with a long track record of success. Since being 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 over 109 over the past six years as well as unprecedented performance in guest loyalty and hotel satisfaction. Best Western has a global network of 4,100† hotels in more than 100† countries and territories worldwide, with annual hotel revenue of over $7 billion.
Kong is known in the industry as a strategic thinker and innovator. Best Western's launch of a completely reimagined and modern brand identity last year clarifies its diverse portfolio and signals exciting changes at Best Western. The investment of $2 billion in property improvements is enhancing and broadening the brand's appeal. The company now offers eleven hotel brands including two new lifestyle and boutique concepts - GLō® and Vīb® to suit the needs of today’s business and leisure travelers.
Under Kong's leadership, Best Western has set out to be a leader in the internet, mobile and social media space. 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. In 2017, Best Western announced the global launch of its Mobile Guest Engagement Platform – which provides web-based guest communications tools pre-arrival, on property and at check-out, all without the necessity of downloading a smartphone application.
With Kong's background and involvement in sales and marketing, Best Western won a record-breaking 65 HSMAI Adrian Awards in 2017. AAA has recognized Best Western as the "Partner of the Year" every year since 2008. For five 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 number one in upper-mid-price and mid-price hotel brands in the 2017 Hotel Brand Survey - marking the brand's fourth consecutive year of being top ranked by Business Travel News® readers. Under Kong’s leadership, Best Western has also become a frontrunner in innovation, integrating the latest technology, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), to meet the needs of today’s travelers. In 2018, Fast Company named Best Western Hotels & Resorts as one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in AR/VR for its cutting edge initiatives – including the Best Western Virtual Reality Experience and the I Care® Every Guest Every Time employee training.
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 the past 11 consecutive years and was named “Asia’s Best Mid-Range Hotel Brand” by the Travel Weekly Asia for the past three years.
In 2016, Kong introduced Best Western’s first franchise offerings, SureStay® Hotel by Best Western, SureStay Plus® Hotel by Best Western, and SureStay Collection® by Best Western. And in 2017, Kong introduced another soft brand to Best Western’s portfolio – BW Signature Collection® – to offer attractive options to both hotel owners and guests.
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.