David Kong Inducted as 2010 AH&LA Chairman

  • AH&LA
  • 11.16.09
During his inaugural speech at New York’s Waldorf=Astoria hotel, American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) incoming chair David Kong, president/CEO of Best Western International, told an audience of industry leaders that his priorities lie in using the collective power of the industry players to emerge stronger and better in 2010.

The evening was also the kick-off to a year-long celebration of AH&LA’s centennial (1910-2010).

Kong noted that before the association was founded in 1910, it was every man for himself.  At the first meeting of the American Protective Association, a group of 60 maverick hoteliers met because they saw the need to collaborate. 
“With so many specialized organizations having formed since then, we need to find a way to harness our power, to be better aligned, coordinated, and integrated for the voice of the industry to be heard in Washington.  There are many important battles ahead of us at the local and national level, and we need to synergize and find ways to work together more effectively to protect our industry,” said Kong. 

As someone who began his career as a busboy and dishwasher, David sees the importance of positioning the industry as a wise career choice for future leaders.  “To me it’s crucial to make an impact on people and to leave a legacy for having made a difference in someone’s life,” he said.  AH&LA is using several events, including the Stars of the Industry awards competition and National Groundhog Job Shadow Day to celebrate industry legacies and reach out to 100 schools in 2010, respectively. 

“As we get ready to launch into 2010, I feel energized by the opportunities ahead for the hotel industry. For the past 100 years we have weathered world wars, depressions and many recessions, but we always emerge better and stronger and it will be this way again.  What a tremendous mile post it is to reach 100 years. A lot has changed since 1910, but the essence of our business has not,” concluded Kong.

The evening included a video highlighting AH&LA’s past, and each attendee received a copy of A Century of Hospitality, a book celebrating the growth of the association and the industry.  

With more than 39 years of experience as a hospitality industry leader and innovator, Kong has served as president and CEO of Best Western International since 2004, spurring years of double-digit reservations system revenue growth and the brand’s highest member satisfaction levels. Before Best Western, Kong's managerial career spanned with top hotel brands, including Hyatt Hotels; Omni International; Regent International; and Hilton Hotels. Kong came to Best Western from KPMG Consulting's hospitality and real estate practice.

He is the 2007 recipient of the Lifetime Hotelier Leadership Award, presented by Niagara University's College of Hospitality and Tourism Management for service to the hospitality industry.

Other 2010 AH&LA officers include Vice Chair John Campbell, general manager of La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Inc.; Secretary/Treasurer Nancy Johnson, executive vice president/chief development officer, Carlson Hotels Worldwide; and Immediate Past Chair Joe Martin, owner/operator, Stillwater Hospitality.  These hoteliers are led by AH&LA President/CEO Joseph A. McInerney, CHA. 

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