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Q&A with Odyssey Award Winner, Chris Mottershead, Thomas Cook Group

1. What does receiving the ITT Odyssey Award mean to you?

It is an extremely prestigious award given to very few people. I feel honoured and humbled to have the privilege of joining such an auspicious list of previous recipients.

2. Much has changed since you worked at Airtours back in the early 90s. What is the biggest challenge facing the travel industry right now?

It was a simpler industry with fewer options for customers in the 90’s. There seem to be so many more challenges outside of our control nowadays. So the main objective has to be to ensure customers create wonderful memories from their holiday experiences.

3. If time travel was possible, what advice would you give your younger self?


I have always had a strong passion for improving every business that I’ve worked in. I have always been competitive but the advice I would give my younger self would be not to try to win every time. Sometimes losing is winning ….

4. First Choice, TUI, Thomas Cook, Airtours and more… You’ve enjoyed an amazing career in travel. What was your favourite role – and why?

My new role as Chief of Product & Operations for Thomas Group PLC is enabling me to do what I’ve always enjoyed doing most – working overseas. Whether this means speaking at one of our Retail Conferences, visiting hotels, working with our overseas teams or just seeing our overseas teams with our customers. At the end of the day, we are creating wonderful holidays for our customers to enjoy in other countries.

5. Campaign Magazine once described you as a ‘gregarious Welshman’. Does it annoy you that people think you’re Welsh?

Not at all. I moved to Wales when I was six months old and lived there for over 30 years. Although I have always considered myself English, growing up in Wales was a wonderful experience and I only have the happiest of memories. It’s where I met my wife and three of my children were born.

6. Who do you most admire in business and why?

I have always admired people who have started with nothing and have created something very special. However, I tend to admire the talent and not necessarily the individual as often these people are flawed. Elon Musk is a great example of this.

7. What was the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?

Treat everybody as you wish to be treated yourself.

8. What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in business?

Not considering the Finance Director role of Manchester United when I was approached by a head hunter (in the mid-nineties) because I thought the business was too small! David Gill was subsequently appointed and the rest is history.

9. …And your proudest business achievement to date?

Improving the Net Promoter Score (quality score) for Thomas Cook Holidays by 11 points in two years and turning the UK business from being Retail- focussed to Digitally led. Online has seen strong growth and is now often our best performing channel.

10. What is your advice to someone joining the industry?

Get as much experience of as many areas as quickly as possible. Gone are the days when you could learn everything in a small tour operator; the broad knowledge is essential to make bold business decisions. Establishing the Graduate scheme in Thomas Cook was something I am very proud of and something that hopefully helps people to gain experience in a wide range of areas.

11. If you were Prime Minister for a day, what would you change?

Injustice.

12. If you could sign one player for your beloved Manchester United, who would it be – and why?


Kilian Mbappé – the most exciting young player in the World today.

13. If you could meet anyone – any character from history, literature, any religious character, absolutely anyone, man or woman – who would it be, and why?

There are so many people that I would of course like to meet but as I have a specific interest in history I will limit my choice to British historical figures. I would choose the Duke of Wellington because he is one of our nation’s greatest heroes and the man to eventually defeat Napoleon.

Published: Wednesday, September 05, 2018

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