David Kong, the longest serving CEO in the hotel industry, will retire from the BWH Hotel Group at the end of 2021. He joined the company in 2001 and was named CEO in 2004. During that time, according to an announcement, Kong transformed the company and shaped it into a “global powerhouse.” Chip Rogers, CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said that Kong is recognized in the industry as “a leader who truly cares about people” and is “among the most respected people in the industry.” An immigrant from Hong Kong as a young adult, Kong started his career as a dishwasher and busboy. Among his accomplishments at BWH Hotel Group, according to the announcement were:
- Growing BWH Hotel Group from one (Best Western) to 18 brands covering every chain scale segment and every type of accommodation including boutique/lifestyle and extended stay.
- Setting successive records of highest guest and hotel satisfaction ratings.
- Setting new company record of highest EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) growth. Company cash reserves and net equity grew over 10-fold since Kong became CEO.
- Growing company loyalty program contribution to becoming the third highest in the industry.