Best Western CEO David Kong to retire

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BWH Hotel Group announced that president and CEO David Kong will retire at the end of 2021.

David Kong
David Kong

The hotel industry's longest tenured CEO, Kong joined Best Western Hotels & Resorts in 2001 and was named CEO in 2004. During his 20 years, Kong transformed the company, forming BWH Hotel Group and shaping it into a major global competitor. 

Kong grew BWH Hotel Group from one to 18 brands that cover every chain segment and every type of accommodation, including boutique/lifestyle and extended stay.

    Under Kong's leadership, the company grew cash reserves, grew net equity more than 10-fold and acquired both WorldHotels Collection and property management system AutoClerk. 

    "This industry has empowered me to dream boldly about the future and to pursue those dreams without hesitation. I feel blessed to have been surrounded by exceptional teams throughout my career and through sheer passion and dedication, we have chased bold dreams and achieved what many might have considered impossible," said Kong. "I have always wanted to move on at my peak. With our caring culture, our extraordinary hoteliers, executive team and corporate staff, I have no doubt the best is yet to come for BWH Hotel Group." 

    A legacy of leadership and caring

    "What [Kong] has been able to do with Best Western is really create the consistency of the highest level of performance," said American Hotel & Lodging Association president and CEO Chip Rogers. "David has created an environment at Best Western that encourages its owners to be their best and to create the best products."

    In addition to brand leadership, Kong, who entered the industry as a dishwasher and busboy, leaves a legacy of caring. He has been known throughout the industry for making good on his promises and working to serve and mentor his colleagues and teams. 

    "David Kong is a once-in a-lifetime leader whose contributions to Best Western and BWH Hotel Group are truly immeasurable," said BWH Hotel Group board chairman Ishwar Naran. "It has been the honor of my career to work alongside David and witness first-hand his remarkable passion and dedication to our industry. David has always led by example and, most importantly, cared deeply about those he serves from hoteliers, to colleagues, associates, guests and communities."

    Rogers said, "David Kong is recognized in our industry as a leader that truly cares about people. He has been an amazing leader and among the most respected people in this industry."

    More executive changes in travel

    Wyndham president and CEO Geoff Ballotti said, "David has been a mentor to so many of us over the years. He inspired me early in my career as he has so many others to get more involved in our industry, including the American Hotel & Lodging Association, Asian American Hotel Owners Association and the U.S. Travel Association. He is someone I trust and greatly admire."

    U.S. Travel Association president and CEO Roger Dow said, "David's legacy is the integrity of a promise, keeping your word and delivering on it. He's a role model for how this industry leads to fulfilling careers, going from the front line to CEO, as he's done."

    Source: Business Travel News

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