David Kong, founder/principal, DEI Advisors and former president/CEO, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, will be presented with the ALIS Lifetime Achievement Award during the 23rd annual Americas Lodging Investment Summit (ALIS) on Jan. 22-24, at the JW Marriott/Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles L.A. Live.
The award is presented to an individual who has made significant contributions to the hospitality industry through their actions, deeds and accomplishments.
“I express my heartfelt gratitude to Jeff Higley and The BHN Group for bestowing upon me this honor,” said Kong. “Being recognized alongside industry legends whom I have long admired is both humbling and heartening. My sincere thanks to the exceptional team with whom I had the privilege of working. Together, we turned seemingly impossible dreams into reality, making my career journey incredibly fulfilling and gratifying.”
In 2022, Kong, along with Rachel Humphrey and Lan Elliott, launched DEI Advisors, an Arizona-based nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering women and other minority groups to achieve their career aspirations.
“I formed DEI Advisors to collect and share insights and learnings from industry leaders,” he said. “While many companies are doing wonderful work in the areas of DEI, individuals must also be responsible—and feel empowered—for their own personal growth and career aspirations. Essentially, we’re aiming to prepare future leaders in the industry for the driver’s seat of their own journey, where they get to truly help create and advocate for their own destiny.”
In 2021, he retired as president/CEO of Best Western Hotels & Resorts after 17 years at the helm. He led the company to unprecedented growth, transforming it and expanding its portfolio from one brand to 18 distinct brands in every chain-scale segment, and achieving successive new records in RevPAR and EBIDTA growth.
“It’s a good time for me to move on from Best Western, because over the last 20 years, we built a solid foundation,” he told Hotel Business in an exclusive interview announcing his retirement. “We have a lot of very established, proven programs and platforms that are yielding good benefits for hotels. We have built a highly competent and dedicated team. We’ve achieved a lot together. So, if you consider all that we’ve accomplished, it’s probably time for me to move on.”
Prior to Best Western, he held leadership positions with KPMG Consulting, Hyatt Hotels Corp, Omni Hotels & Resorts and Hilton.
Kong has received numerous awards and accolades throughout his career. He was the recipient of the inaugural Arne Sorenson Social Impact Award presented at ALIS in 2022. The Hong Kong native also served as the chairman of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) in 2010 and was appointed to the U.S. Department of Commerce Travel and Tourism Advisory Board for three years.
“David is one of those leaders with a hospitality-to-the-core mentality, and his strong ethics and commitment to mentoring and creating more diversity throughout the industry are among the many hallmarks that make him a perfect recipient of this award,” said Higley, president, The BHN Group. “His vision of reinventing a single brand founded in 1946 into a successful multibranded conglomerate is a lesson in perseverance and tenacity that we can all learn from. We’re proud to have someone with such a diverse and successful background join the list of exceptional leaders that comprise the past winners of the ALIS Lifetime Achievement Award.”