Senior Leadership Team
Julia Lo Bue-Said, Chief Executive Officer
Julia is highly regarded as a spokesperson for the travel industry, regularly featuring on TV, radio and print media globally. Since the outbreak of Covid 19, her status as a champion for independent travel businesses has been elevated and she now regularly features on national television and on national mainstream news outlets by pivoting direction quickly to react to the ever-changing news agenda, ensuring that output was appropriate, relevant and in tune with consumer sentiment. In January 2021, Julia was announced as an ‘Industry Influencer’ on the Business Travel News Europe 2021 Hotlist in recognition of her part in leading business travel's recovery, driving change and representing the wider industry tirelessly through the Covid 19 pandemic.
Julia became CEO of the Advantage Travel Centres group in April 2018 having previously held the role of Managing Director since July 2013. With a 25-year tenure in the business, Julia’s vision and passion for the sector have enabled her to transform the business culture to one of vigour and energy. Julia has introduced many changes across the business and the journey to transform continues. Julia believes passionately in the SME sector; that they are the lifeblood of business and in 2019 represented the company in the Parliamentary Review with the aim to share best practice amongst policymakers and business leaders. Under Julia’s leadership, profitability and shareholder value have grown along with annual dividend payments to shareholders.
Julia's focus for the future is very much on driving forward \dvantage's four areas of strategic growth: footprint expansion; product and portfolio capitalisation; digital transformation and operational excellence, all underpinned by having the very best people talent. Julia is a great mentor to team members and has been instrumental in developing key people across the business. Julia is an executive director who sits on the Advantage group board.
Kelly Cookes, Chief Commercial Officer
Kelly was promoted to Chief Commercial Officer in early 2022 and is now focused on leveraging the Group’s global buying power and driving improved commercial benefit across the Group, looking at opportunities to develop additional member products and services for the membership. She will also be concentrating on maximising membership recruitment and retention working alongside her experienced senior management team.
Kelly joined Advantage as Leisure Director in October 2019 and, along with Julia, has become a go-to spokesperson representing not only the travel industry but specifically the travel agent community for broadcast, print and online media. Kelly is an experienced senior travel professional skilled in commercial negotiation, sales, partnerships management and senior management. Kelly has spent most of her career within the Thomas Cook group, joining its graduate scheme and moving into roles within a sales and commercial environment.
Having joined Freedom Travel Group as Relationship Manager in 2013, Kelly quickly progressed to General Manager in 2014. Holding the position for five years, Kelly went on to work as Head of Commercial at Thomas Cook, which included all UK distribution channels. During her time at Freedom, Kelly saw both membership and profitability increase. Kelly is an executive director who sits on the Advantage group board.
Paul Nunn, Chief Operating Officer
Paul was promoted to Chief Operating Officer in early 2022, providing leadership of all operational, IT, regulatory and compliance aspects of the Advantage group of companies, as well as working with the wider global team to deliver further business solutions that are critical to the Group’s membership, including bonding and insurance products and services.
Paul is a skilled travel industry professional with 30 years’ of experience in the sector. Paul joined Advantage back in 1999, following several years working at a well-known tour operator. Having spent the first 15 years of his career in Finance, Paul altered his career path by transitioning to an operational role at Advantage in 2008, progressing to the position of Operations Director, which saw him oversee all operational, IT, regulatory and compliance aspects of the Advantage group of companies. In addition to the group Board, Paul is also a Director of and sits on the subsidiary Boards of Advantage Financial Services Limited (AFS) and Independent Advantage Insurance Company Limited (IAICL).
Paul has led multiple projects and initiatives over the years at Advantage and had a particular pioneering role in the setup and implementation of Advantage Managed Services (AMS), an area of the business which remains within his remit.
Guy Snelgar, Global Business Travel Director
Guy joined Advantage in June 2022 as Global Business Travel Director.
In this role, he is responsible for leading The Advantage Travel Partnership’s Global Business Travel team and driving forward the division’s strategy and partnerships with members both in the UK and across the Advantage’s global network.
Guy’s career in the travel industry spans over 30 years, with sales and commercial roles across GDS and travel technology, a major hotel chain, top 10 Travel Management Company, and a payments provider. During this time, he has led teams delivering and supporting solutions for hundreds of corporate clients and their TMCs, with travel programmes and spend ranging from £100,000 to over £500m globally. He has also served as a board director at the Institute of Travel Management.
In 2016, Guy joined Travelport as Commercial Director, where he successfully grew the GDS’s UK market share, particularly across independent agents, in both the business and leisure travel sectors. In 2019, he started his own consulting business, working with TMCs and corporate customers on projects ranging from travel programme reviews and RFPs to implementing online booking tools and travel sustainability initiatives.
Xian Mayes, Chief of People
Xian joined Advantage in July 2022, this new position of Chief of People has been created to better reflect the importance that our people play in our overall business, both today and going forward. Her experience in all areas of HR will be a great support to us as we seek to further develop a future-proof people strategy, and also as we look to support the wider industry in its attempt to become a more compelling and attractive sector to work in.
Xian joins Advantage from Milton Keynes-based IMServ Europe Limited, one of the UK’s leading data collection and energy metering experts, where she held the position of HR Director, and brings with her a strong track record of successfully delivering HR change across a 20-year career.