President and Chief Executive Officer
David Kong is the longest running CEO of the top 10 major global hotel chains. Since he was named President & CEO of Best Western® Hotels & Resorts in 2004, Kong has led the company to its greatest growth to date. Under his leadership, Best Western has grown to a global portfolio of 18 exciting brands, comprising approximately 4,700 hotels across all chain scale segments. The company has consistently achieved impressive financial success with a RevPAR Index of over 112 the past three years, and unprecedented performance in guest loyalty and hotel satisfaction. Kong has been instrumental in molding the company into a vibrant and relevant brand.
Kong is known in the industry as a strategic thinker and innovator. Under Kong's leadership, Best Western has set out to be a leader in the internet, mobile and social media space. The brand has made continuous improvements to its mobile booking experience, 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 to support every step of the guest journey, including 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 75 HSMAI Adrian Awards in 2019. AAA has recognized Best Western as the "Partner of the Year" for the past twelve consecutive years. For seven years in a row, Best Western Rewards® was ranked as a top hotel loyalty program by U.S. News & World Report®. In 2020 and 2021, SureStay Hotel Group was named #1 in the economy segment in the J.D. Power North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study; in 2019, Best Western Premier® ranked #1 in the upscale segment. 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 six years. 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 13 consecutive years and was named “Asia’s Best Mid-Range Hotel Brand” by the Travel Weekly Asia for the past five years.
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.
In 2021, Kong was inducted into BTN Group’s Business Travel Hall of Fame, which honors distinguished business travel leaders that have had a profound impact on the travel category. That same year, Kong was honored for his commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusivity by GBTA WINiT as Best Make Coach of The Year. Kong’s dedication to innovation was celebrated in 2019 with Hotel Interactive and Guest Magazine both naming Kong Innovator of the Year. Kong also 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.