John McEwan (b. 1947) has over 50 years’ experience in the travel industry including UK and global roles. John has worked for major travel brands in Thomas Cook and Lunn Poly and most recently, Advantage Travel Centres.
After joining the travel industry in a retail agency at the age of 16, John rose to become regional vice-president for Thomas Cook in the US by the time he was 28. He returned to the UK to become retail director, before being appointed Managing Director of Thomas Cook Travel UK. John oversaw a significant expansion of the business, culminating in a doubling in size of the retail network, the launch of Thomas Cook Direct and major expansion of foreign exchange into airports and HSBC. During this period, John introduced the famous strap line, “Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it.”
John was then appointed Managing Director of Thomas Cook International, a global role spanning over 50 countries with travel outlets and foreign exchange outlets worldwide as well as a major financial services business. In 2000, he moved on to join the Thomson Travel Group as Strategic Development Director before becoming MD of Lunn Poly, then the UK’s largest travel retailer. During this period he led the transformation of the financial performance of the business by introducing foreign exchange and also dramatically improving productivity. He was subsequently appointed as Retail Director, TUI UK. In September 2004, John became the Chief Executive of Advantage, the UK’s largest consortium of travel agents, a role he held until stepping down in 2013.
John received an award for Lifetime Achievement at the 2009 Agent Achievements Awards. He was elected chairman of ABTA from 2009–2013. He has also chaired the Travel and Tourism Diploma programme, which was introduced into the school curriculum for 14-19 year olds.
John was honoured by the British Travel & Hospitality Hall of Fame in 2010.