Thomas Cook has appointed former Tui UK managing director Chris Mottershead as business development director.
Mottershead, who has been working for Tui in Russia for the last four years, starts at Thomas Cook’s Peterborough headquarters on Wednesday (April 1).
The appointment means that in a long and distinguished travel career dating back to 1993, Mottershead will now have worked for all the original ‘Big Four’ vertically integrated operators: Airtours, Tui, First Choice (which he worked for in Canada) and now Thomas Cook.
Speaking exclusively to Travel Weekly, he said: “I am going to be helping Thomas Cook to improve the quality of their product and developing the business in general.
“They have already started to introduce differentiated product; having unique hotels that are specific to Thomas Cook is critical.”
Asked if Thomas Cook was pursuing the same strategy as Tui in that regard, Mottershead replied: “It’s not that Thomas Cook want to copy Tui.
"It's about finding their own steps forward to offer something that others can’t, or that isn’t comparable online, but is specifically yours. For me, that’s the key to making yourself the number-one choice, which is what Thomas Cook needs to do.”
Mottershead revealed he had always wanted to work for Thomas Cook because of the strength of the brand.
“It’s almost happened in the past on several occasions so it’s great to be doing it at long last. It’s 100% the right time for me to be doing it.
"I believe in Thomas Cook because of the brand, the heritage. It’s the original travel brand, so to have completed my career without ever having worked for Cook would have been a very sad thing.”
Mottershead revealed he had contacted Thomas Cook chief executive Peter Fankhauser through mutual contacts to ask about joining.
“I told him I wanted to join Thomas Cook as I believe in what he is trying to achieve,” he said.
He added: “I don’t think Thomas Cook is broken, because the brand is so strong. It is in a position to take advantage of the market as it stands for quality and service.
"I just need to take a good look at the organisation and see how I can improve it quickly. But it can be done as it’s all there.”
Mottershead stressed he would be looking to work with the existing teams to support them and had “no intention” of bringing his own people in.
Mottershead started his travel career as finance director at Airtours Holidays before being promoted to managing director and then president and chief executive of its North American division.
In 2001, he became managing director of Tui UK, a position he held for almost three years before quitting and being succeeded by Peter Rothwell.
Between 2005 and 2009 he spent time outside of the majors when he founded and was chief executive of Travelzest, an umbrella firm for a number of niche operators.
The acrimonious collapse of Travelzest saw him leave to become First Choice Canada chief executive in 2009, before taking the role of Tui Russia managing director in July 2010 based in Moscow.
Mottershead will report to Thomas Cook UK & Ireland managing director Salman Syed, who said: “I’m delighted to announce this new and exciting addition to the UK management team.
“Chris has an impressive pedigree in the international travel industry, with substantial experience over a number of years at a senior level. He enjoys an excellent reputation, with a well-proven vision of meeting the needs of customers in an omni-channel, technology-driven world.”
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