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BWH Hotel Group announced today that David Kong, President and Chief Executive Officer, will be retiring at the end of 2021. Kong, the industry’s longest running CEO, joined Best Western® Hotels & Resorts in 2001 and was named CEO in 2004. During this 20-year journey, Kong would transform the company, form BWH Hotel Group and shape it into a global powerhouse. He leaves an indelible mark on the entire hotel industry.

“David Kong is a once in a lifetime leader whose contributions to Best Western and BWH Hotel Group are truly immeasurable,” comments Ishwar Naran, Board Chairman, BWH Hotel Group. “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.”

“David Kong is recognized in our industry as a leader that truly cares about people,” said Chip Rogers, President and CEO, American Hotel & Lodging Association. “He has been an amazing leader and among the most respected people in this industry.”

“David has been a mentor to so many of us over the years,” added Geoff Ballotti, President and CEO, Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. “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, AAHOA, and the U.S. Travel Association. He is someone I trust and greatly admire.”

Kong’s first step toward a lifelong career in hospitality began as a dishwasher and busboy. When he arrived in the United States from Hong Kong as a young adult, like many immigrants before him, he had no money, no job, and no connections to offer support. Despite these challenges, Kong leaned into the values and work ethic instilled by his parents to rise through the ranks of the hospitality industry, culminating in his role as President and CEO of BWH Hotel Group. These values have shaped David Kong into the leader he is today.

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

Under Kong’s leadership, BWH Hotel Group has evolved into a modern and innovative hotel company. Together with his leadership team, Kong spearheaded a number of initiatives that transformed the hotel brand into the global hospitality powerhouse it is today.

“What he has been able to do with Best Western is really create the consistency of the highest level of performance,” added Rogers. “David has created an environment at Best Western that encourages its owners to be their best and to create the best products.”

Kong’s achievements at BWH Hotel Group include:

  • Growing BWH Hotel Group from one to 18 vibrant and exciting brands covering every chain scale segment and every type of accommodation including boutique/lifestyle and extended stay.
  • Setting successive records of RevPAR growth from 103 in 2004 to 112.4 in 2021.
  • Setting successive records of highest guest and hotel satisfaction ratings.
  • Setting new company record of highest EBITDA growth. Company cash reserves and net equity grew over 10-fold since becoming CEO.
  • Growing company loyalty program contribution to becoming the third highest in the industry.
  • Setting company record of industry awards and accolades.
  • AAA Lodging Partner of the Year 12 years in a row
  • 2019 J.D. Power Best Upscale Brand (Best Western Premier®)
  • 2020 and 2021 J.D. Power Best Economy Brand (SureStay Hotel Group®)
  • 2018 Fast Company Top 20 Most Innovative Companies
  • TTG Asia Best Midscale Brand 12 years in a row
  • 2020 Business Travel News Best Midscale Hotel Brand and Second-Best Upper Midscale Hotel Brand
  • Leading unprecedented growth globally.
  • Leading acquisition efforts of a hotel company (WorldHotels™ Collection) and PMS provider (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 feel very fortunate to have played a role in building BWH Hotel Group into the brand it is today. 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.”

“David took the company through a significant transformation from a single brand to a multi brand family,” said Pat Pacious, President and Chief Executive Officer, Choice Hotels International, Inc. “That required a lot of listening, a lot of partnership and a lot of persuasion, but created a great outcome for his company and his members.”

“David brought a sense of family to life at Best Western,” added Mark Hoplamazian, President and CEO, Hyatt Hotels Corporation. “Everyone affiliated with Best Western has a similar family feel and I think David did a great job of nurturing that even as he was navigating and leading a very significant transformation for the company.”

Like many leaders today, Kong was faced with the greatest challenge of his career in 2020 when the global pandemic decimated the hospitality industry. From the onset of the pandemic, Kong was fiercely committed to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the brand’s hoteliers, helping to ensure the survival of their businesses and protecting their family legacies. He immediately sprang into action, implementing a comprehensive strategy which included:

  • Extending over $65 million in fee rebates to its hoteliers since March 2020.
  • Adjusting operating standards and rolled out enhanced cleaning protocols with the launch of its industry-leading the We Care CleanSMprogram.
  • Becoming a prominent industry voice to advocate for the needs of hoteliers across the nation. Kong met with President Trump and government leaders and conducted interviews with many major TV network to cast a light on the hardships of hoteliers and advocate for much-needed federal support.

“David not only led the company through its most devastating time yet, but he inspired hope, encouraged those around him to not be defined by their hardships, and showed others the light inside each of them to continue fighting and enduring,” added Naran. “Throughout the darkness of the pandemic, David led with caring, empathy, and a steadfast resolve to overcome. He set an example of leadership through crisis that will be remembered for generations to come.”

BWH Hotel Group will announce a new CEO at the company’s Annual Convention on October 7, 2021.

To learn more about BWH Hotel Group, please visit bestwestern.com or worldhotels.com.

 
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Destination BC is helping tourism businesses across the province to “Power Up” through a new digital mentorship program which will award successful applicants a digital service package valued at up to $5,000.

The Power Up! application-based program will provide 75 eligible BC-based, small and medium sized tourism businesses, sole proprietors, and non-profits across the province with free access to digital audit and technical services designed to improve their digital marketing activities and use of technology.

“Power Up is the latest digital program to be added to Destination BC’s suite of industry development opportunities,” said Richard Porges, President and CEO of Destination BC. “Strong digital expertise is increasingly important as virtually all travellers are online before, during, and after their trips. The program will bolster digital capabilities on a one-to-one basis with each qualifying tourism business, offering tailored digital support where each business needs it most.”

Successful applicants will be given access to a digital subject matter expert in a service area of their choice, who will work with them to improve their online capabilities. The service costs will be directly covered, up to a maximum of $5,000 per participant, and will include educational resources for further learning and ongoing implementation.

The application intake opened on September 20, 2021 at 9:00 am PST and will remain open until 85 applications are received, at which point the intake will close and applications will be reviewed based on eligibility criteria in the order they are received.

For more information and to find the Program Guide and Application Form visit: https://www.destinationbc.ca/learning-centre/power-up/

 
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Big Picture Conferences, along with guidance from various provincial health agencies and the conference's Advisory Council, have made the decision to move the upcoming conference to B.C.

The Western Canadian Lodging Conference  will now be held at the The Westin Bayshore on November 15th & 16th in Vancouver for 2021.

Please note there has been a Venue & Date change for this LIVE HYBRID event!

Registration for WCLC 2021 will open in 2 weeks, at which time we will announce our Keynote and Program.

We plan on returning to the Hyatt in Calgary in 2022.

 
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Winnipeg, MB September 23, 2021 — The establishment of the Manitoba Indigenous Tourism Association (MITA) and an updated Manitoba Indigenous Tourism Strategy were officially recognized and celebrated at the opening of the MITA Virtual Summit this morning.

“Indigenous tourism experiences are an important part of visiting Manitoba and an opportunity to improve the socio-economic environment for Indigenous communities,” said the Honourable Alan Lagimodiere, Minister for Indigenous Reconciliation and Northern Relations, earlier today at the summit opening.

Tourism is vital for the success and growth of Manitoba’s economy, said the Honourable Jon Reyes, Minister of Economic Development and Jobs. “Manitoba’s diverse landscape and Indigenous cultures lay the foundation to create and enhance unique, world-class experiences.”

Travel Manitoba and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) have been working together since 2017 to foster the growth of Indigenous tourism in the province, said Colin Ferguson, President and CEO of Travel Manitoba, at the summit opening. Industry input through regional engagement sessions and direction from the Manitoba Indigenous Tourism Advisory Committee helped develop the first Manitoba Indigenous Tourism Strategy.

“Since the Manitoba Indigenous Tourism Strategy was first launched two years ago, significant progress has been made,” Ferguson said, noting that progress includes an increase in market-ready and export-ready Indigenous-owned tourism experiences in Manitoba and over $1 million in funding to Indigenous businesses for tourism development and COVID-19 recovery.

“The outbreak of COVID-19 brought the global tourism industry to a standstill and it has had a deep impact on Manitoba’s Indigenous tourism sector,” said Ferguson. “The updated strategy recognizes the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19 and provides direction for the future.”

Manitoba’s Indigenous tourism sector has faced additional barriers, including access to some funding programs and severe lock-downs in some communities making the adaptation of business models more challenging, said Keith Henry, President and CEO, Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC).

“Manitoba has a strong, resilient Indigenous culture. This strength will be the foundation for recovery and growth of authentic tourism experiences.”

The vision of the updated strategy is to have a prosperous Indigenous tourism industry across Manitoba, said Dave Daley, Board Chair of MITA and owner of Wapusk Adventures in Churchill.

“Leadership and collaboration are necessary for the Indigenous tourism sector in Manitoba to recover and prosper and this begins with a robust and vibrant tourism association that has a strong voice to lead and advocate for the sector,” he said. “Indigenous tourism is about telling our stories, sharing our culture and contributing to the economic viability of local communities and the province as a whole. This strategy gives us the framework to survive and recover as a sector so that we can continue to meet this potential and tell our stories.”

Daley introduced the other members of the MITA board, including Jason Gobeil, wellness coordinator with Dakota Ojibway Child & Family Services, Sky Bridges, CEO of The Winnipeg Foundation, Edna Nabess, co-owner of Cree-Ations, and Lee Sinclair, Director of Operations with the Paskwayak Business Development Corporation.

The MITA Virtual Summit was organized by the Manitoba Indigenous Tourism Association, Travel Manitoba and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada. The summit, while virtual, was hosted in Manitoba which encompasses Treaty 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 Territory and communities who are signatories to Treaties 6 and 10, the original lands of the Anishinaabeg, Anish-Ininiwak, Dakota, Dene, Ininiwak and Nehethowuk and the homeland of the Métis.

 
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Calgary-based Superior Lodging Corporation is pleased to announce that Mike Bobbitt has accepted the role of Vice President, Franchising and Development.

As he assumes the role, Mike brings with him many years of experience and a proven track record of success. Mike has worked in Sales for the Halifax Convention Centre/Metro Centre, Carnival Cruise Lines, Atlific Hotels, Choice Hotels and has spent a large portion of his career within hotel operations with Westmont, Royal Host, and Sunray. Mike likes to establish long-and short-term goals, working with a strong focus to achieve them. He has a win-win approach, working to exceed client and staff expectations while fostering a loose, friendly but competitive environment.

“I am really excited to start this new role, and I look forward seeing franchisees that I know and look forward to meeting new franchisees as well” said Mike Bobbitt when asked about his new role. “While the road ahead could have its challenges, I am confident in the fundamentals of the industry and expect pent up demand to help drive customers to our brands.” 

Mike will be based out of Ontario, Canada, working closely with team members and franchisees alike. Please join us in welcoming Mr. Mike Bobbitt to the team. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 902-495-1138.

 

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