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 or


Shoal Brook, NL (September 16, 2021) - Nestled in the forested hillside bordering Gros Morne National Park in Western Newfoundland & Labrador, the Gros Morne Inn offers luxury accommodations, fine dining, and four-seasons of outdoor exploration and adventure.

The Gros Morne Inn will debut in spring 2022. The Inn’s owners, local entrepreneurs Ian Stone and Rebecca Brushett, are dedicated to bringing travelers to the region for a sustainable, once-in-a-lifetime experience of the region’s rugged coastlines, massive fjords, and colorful forests.

Boasting ocean and mountain views from each of the 15 guestrooms, the boutique Inn’s interiors are inspired by the clean lines, natural light, and color palette from the surrounding environment, with local wildlife and marine artwork featured throughout. The Inn’s flexible layout can accommodate a variety of booking types such as friends, couples, small and large families, and groups up to 42. Opening rates will begin at $375 CA per night.

Among the Inn’s amenities are an outdoor spa space with cedar-jetted tubs and a private sauna arranged for an unobstructed view of Bonne Bay, a grand patio for pristine dark sky viewing, as well as a gym and indoor and outdoor event space. Taste, the Inn’s restaurant, will offer seasonal fine dining with a menu of sustainably caught seafood and locally grown products from nearby farms.

With sustainability at the core of its mission, the eco-friendly boutique Inn has repurposed or rehomed as much as possible from the original structure. The Inn operations will adhere to a strict circular business model by eliminating single-use plastics, composting of unused foods, and transitioning towards electric and hybrid vehicles. Renewable energy like solar and hydroelectricity will be utilized to reduce its overall carbon footprint and any carbon offset dollars from visitors will be donated to a local non-profit. Through its partnership with the Atlantic Healthy Oceans Initiative (AHOI), the Gros Morne Inn is working to become one of the only Ocean Wise certified Seafood Partners in NL and a B Corp establishment to ensure the highest standards of social and environmental performance are met.

By partnering with Tour Gros Morne, guests can customize their experience of Gros Morne National Park, with day hikes on the Tablelands and three, five, and seven-day tours featuring boat excursions of Western Brook Pond Fjord, strolls along the volcanic coastline of Green Gardens, and more. Taste of Gros Morne offers local seafood tours, picturesque picnics, and other culinary experiences. 

Gros Morne Inn is located at Old Trout River Road, Shoal Brook, NL, Canada A0K1K0.


When budgeting for 2022, what drivers should hoteliers consider changing to ensure a more accurate plan?

By Jill Wilder

As we are all aware, budgeting for 2022 will present some challenges, without a crystal ball we are going to need to use our knowledge to form new ways to plan for our future. While historical drivers helped hoteliers in previous years with their future planning, it’s a whole new ballgame today, as the very way a hotel operates is radically different from even a year ago. As in the past, just comparing departmental profits from previous months is just one piece of the puzzle. To have better, more accurate budgeting numbers for the year ahead, hoteliers need to re-evaluate their drivers and establish a new baseline data set.

Here’s why: Pre-COVID, the most common drivers when working in budgets and forecasts were “per occupied room” and “percentage of revenue” with very standardized values. By simply adjusting the room occupancy values, expenses and revenues would automatically re-calculate and change accordingly. Today, hotels are different with one key difference due to staffing and capacity limitations. In many situations, cleanliness is key and the length of time for a housekeeper to accomplish their tasks is dramatically different.  Therefore, “per occupied room” will not be the only way to calculate their hours.  Should you be considering a “per check-in or check-out” as a driver?  How does the stayover with cleaning vs. stayover without cleaning impact Housekeeper hours?  In the Food & Beverage revenue area, how have the number of covers/occupied room values changed and should there be an outlet capacity that now needs to be included in calculating the revenue per meal period?

What is to be considered for other operating expenses?  An example may be guest supplies have been $1 per occupied room in 2019.  Is it now best to consider merely increasing that value to cover the increased supplier cost or should we be looking at the number of budgeted daily check ins in addition to the increased cost?  In this situation using more than one driver for a calculation may provide a more accurate value.

Rather than copying and pasting prior year driver values into the 2022 budget and forecast hoping you hit the target, reconsider what the new driver and/or values are that drive your hotel.  Use your experience to create new drivers and only rely on the history as a guide. The effort in doing this will provide you with a better starting point for the upcoming years.

The best way to budget and forecast accurately and avoid trying to explain what is happening financially to an owner is to enlist the help of a financial management software company offering web-enabled business intelligence, budgeting, and back-office systems that are 100% hospitality specific. Not only will this technology partner help each property re-evaluate its existing drivers, but it will identify new drivers to correspond with relevant data sets.

Deploying the right enterprise accounting, business intelligence, and budgeting and forecasting solutions will help operators better prepare for change. Since most management contracts and bonuses are based on the accuracy of what is being forecasted, there is no time like the present to make a change, especially for those properties still writing and relying on individual Excel spreadsheets to hit their targets.

At the end of the day, we are all shooting for accuracy. By automating the budgeting and forecasting process, hoteliers will have one source of the truth. A system like Targetvue from Aptech, for example, is equipped operators with Forecast Worksheets that eliminates the need for someone at corporate to create and individual Excel spreadsheet for each hotel and later collect them from the properties and hope the data is accurate. Data can be input via a web browser and cannot impact the logic of the models. Rather than requiring one document per hotel, Targetvue works with drivers to pull in relevant historical data and compare it to years that make sense, such as 2021 vs. 2019, for improved consolidating and reporting.

It’s widely apparent that it is still not business as usual. As a result, hoteliers need to make some drastic changes if they hope to reopen successfully. Re-evaluating a hotel’s drivers is a critical first step towards financial stability. The most accurate way to compare Plan with Performance is to automate the hotel’s budgeting and forecasting processes with a flexible solution proven to drive accuracy and set realistic goals for the hotel enterprise.


COAST SALISH TERRITORY (Vancouver, BC)September 15, 2021 – The Conference Board of Canada (CBOC) and the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC) recently conducted research on the state of Indigenous tourism in Canada. The results showed that while 2021 saw modest gains as a sign of early recovery, the industry still projects a 54 per cent decline in direct GDP compared to pre-pandemic levels. Another study done using Destination Canada’s recovery model, projects that it will take until 2028 for Indigenous tourism to return to peak 2019 levels of employment and GDP.

Changes since 2019:

  • Prior to the 2019 pandemic, Indigenous tourism employed 38.9K employees, and brought in an estimated $1.86 billion in direct GDP
  • During the peak of the pandemic in 2020, Indigenous tourism dropped to 10.6K employees and contributed only $580 million in direct GDP
  • In 2021, Indigenous tourism employed 19.7K and provided an estimated $858 million in direct GDP

The report applies new information gathered from Indigenous tourism operators and ITAC’s members in spring/summer 2021 and reflects the deep and serious impact the pandemic has had on most businesses in the sector. Based on the CBOC research it is estimated that at least a third of Indigenous tourism businesses could still be at serious risk of closure in 2021-2022.

“Based on engaging with operators and last year's research, when COVID-19 first hit, we knew that the negative impacts of the pandemic were devastating to our Indigenous businesses, as it has been for all tourism operators across the country,” said Keith Henry, President and CEO of ITAC. “We have continued to work and advocate with the federal government, as well as provincial governments through our provincial/territorial Indigenous partners, on Indigenous-led solutions. Research like this is important to gauge the health of our industry with concrete data, even if it shows our greatest fears playing out, including over one billion dollars worth of sales lost. This is devastating for Indigenous entrepreneurs, nations and communities from coast to coast to coast who rely heavily on tourism for cultural revitalization and economic diversification.”

More than 650 Indigenous tourism operators participated in the 2020 and 2021 surveys. The biggest concerns amongst operators were the disruption of business into 2022 and beyond, with more than 60 per cent of operators saying they felt COVID-19 would affect their business into 2022 or longer.

ITAC’s own research using the Destination Canada recovery model paints a more sombre picture. According to a recent pulse check and in the very best travel conditions, Indigenous tourism would only be able to return to 2019 numbers by 2028. An even bigger decline is expected if more waves of COVID-19 force further provincial and territorial lockdowns and issues around human resources and lack of support continue to strike across the country.

“Our future may look uncertain but it’s clear that the sector’s path to recovery and renewal will require a series of tailored policy responses to best address the vastly different realities of our industries' diverse businesses. This is why we’ve been advocating for Indigenous-led solutions for the past 18 months. We now need our partners and government to step up if we want to see Indigenous tourism continue. Let’s all hope that tourism recovery and more specifically Indigenous tourism becomes a key topic through all parties during this federal election.”


As Canadians emerge from their homes this summer after the long COVID winter, they are looking for entertainment – any entertainment. They want to sleep in a bed that isn’t theirs, in a room they didn’t clean. They want to eat a meal they didn’t cook at a table they didn’t set.

And the hospitality industry stands to benefit greatly from all this pent-up energy. It doesn’t mean a complete rebound or a near-normal situation. But the industry is bouncing back to a state that is vastly improved from last year.

With coronavirus restrictions still in effect until mid-June, the Canadian hospitality industry hasn’t really started on its path to recovery. In May, hotel occupancy hit 28.1%, significantly better than 2020 levels, but well below the pre-pandemic levels of 2019.

Market predictions suggest the industry won’t bounce back this year, as travel restrictions keep Canadians at home. The best estimates indicate that Canadian hotel occupancy will increase to roughly 38% this summer. And although Restaurants Canada predicts an upward trend as well, the expect business to remain 20% below pre-pandemic levels.

On the other side of the border, where the recovery is further along, signs are more hopeful. In May, U.S. hotels hit average daily occupancy rates of 59.3%, their highest since before the pandemic. And U.S. restaurant sales were only slightly below pre-pandemic levels.

Managing the hard insurance market

Despite the upward trend, securing appropriate insurance has been a major roadblock for many hospitality businesses across North America. The insurance market is the hardest it’s been in decades, decreasing insurance availability and increasing costs significantly.

While some insurance carriers are simply exiting the market, others are substantially hiking premiums or specifying additional exclusions, including COVID-19 and other communicable diseases. Umbrella (excess liability) coverage is difficult to find. And broker strategies like layering (covering exposures in multiple layers among multiple insurers) are more challenging to create.

On the property side, rates have been a continuing issue – especially with increasing larger claims for natural disaster damages – but they were also aggravated by COVID-19-driven business interruption exposures. Executive liability exposures created by the pandemic are driving directors & officers and errors & omissions coverage up by 50%, too. And cyber insurance is also under pressure, as the growth of technology solutions related to the hospitality industry has led to an increase in cybercrimes, along with premium increases of up to 50%.

The key to the challenge is to work with a broker or risk consultant, an expert on the changes impacting the industry and the logical choice to guide hospitality businesses forward. These professionals are also well positioned to help owners and operators present their cases on successful risk management to underwriters.

Making investments in the future

Although tourism is still slow this summer in Canada, there is a huge pent-up demand for travel and dining across North America. Families are desperate to leave home and see something new. Young adults and Boomers are looking for face-to-face interactions. And business people are looking toward in person meetings and conferences – one of the lodging industry’s profit centres – which may not happen until 2025.

The good news is, many owners and operators took advantage of the pandemic shutdown to make investments in technology and personalized service features, which should position them well during the return to normal. Customer expectations regarding “touchless transactions” and “smart” technology are growing. The “smart” global hospitality market is expected to more than double to $12.727 billion by 2025.

The success of the post-pandemic future is riding on a host of new and added capabilities in terms of guest and staff safety and safety compliance. Even more than the obvious booking and check-in platforms, integrated platforms can track where and when guests use spaces and when they’ve been sanitized, as well as communicate with guests when rooms are ready. Behind-the-scenes operations are facilitated, too, like coordinating with housekeeping and other departments.

Since the guest experience is a driver of success, much of the investment is customer facing now. It’s also driving personalization, another trend that relies on digital solutions. In fact, the top two technology priorities by hospitality organizations are digital analytics (to gain better insights) and the front-end customer experience.

Personalizing the guest experience is easy with analytics data leading the way, especially when that data is informed through persona development. Personas provide a deep dive into customer segments so operators can align services and experiences to those preferences. Given the vast amount of data at a hotel’s disposal, this can be an ambitious undertaking. 

The value of personalization, however, is clear through the return on investment. For example, consider business reviews. One study showed that every one-star increase will boost a hotel’s revenues by 5% to 9%.

Another survey found 82% of respondents will pay a premium for a 4-star rated lodging.

The Canadian hospitality industry has a long road ahead of it, especially with the border with the U.S. still closed. But it’s in a much stronger position than it was this time last year, or even a few months ago. Resilient hotels and restaurants will be able to manage the risks and still come out ahead.


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