Booking.com Thailand is widely used by our guests, especially for short stays. Today we read an article in the volkskrant a Dutch newspaper about employees who are not positive about this company.
The Volkskrant article about Booking.com
The internet company Booking.com has no control over the consequences of the hyper growth it has experienced, say (former) employees. “It is one big chaos.” You can read that in de Volkskrant and on glassdoor.com.
This company caused me a lot of pain and pushed me so far over the edge that I wanted to kill myself. I wish I was exaggerating, but it is the harsh truth.
Was signed: an IT specialist from Booking.com, one of the many people with whom De Volkskrant spoke in recent months. From a distance, the by far most successful internet company in the Netherlands looks like a mecca for employees: the beautiful offices in the heart of Amsterdam, the parties and the ‘Freaky Fridays’, the good balance between work and private life, the virtually free three-course lunches, the staff discount on mortgage interest rates and on hotels booked via Booking.com, the business trips and of course the excellent fees.
But online, it has been raining complaints among employees for some time about Shell, Unilever and ING’s most profitable employer in The Netherlands. “Stay away if you care about your mental health,” “a nightmare with good bonuses,” “career suicide,” “poisonous corporate culture” – it’s just an anthology of hundreds of destructive reviews on Glassdoor.com, a website where staff are anonymous can judge Booking.com reviewed on Glassdoor almost 2,300 times in 2018 was among the lowest rated employers in Europe: on a scale of 1 to 5, it scored an average of 3.1 – worse than nine in ten largest companies in Europe and much worse than the internet giants the company is mirroring, such as Facebook, Amazon and Google.
See for yourself a few of the 2326 reviews from Aug 2019:
Booking grows too fast for it’s employees
What is the matter with Booking.com? How is it possible that everything there is big, bigger, biggest – more than 28 million hotel rooms, B & Bs, tree houses, igloos and other holiday tulips and more than eighteen thousand employees, from Santiago in Chile to Siem Reap in Cambodia – except for one employee satisfaction ? The criticism clashes with Bookings’ almost hippie image, with credos such as “To know the world is to love the world” and a workforce more colorful than a Benetton advertisement, with more than eighty nationalities in the ICT department alone. What can an employer do wrong with s God improves his own “Global Head of Inclusion, Diversity, & Belonging” mentality?
Over the past few months, De Volkskrant spoke extensively with fifteen (former) employees of Bookings gigantic ICT department, where dissatisfaction is greatest. They describe Booking as a company that in recent years, like a lanky adolescent after a growth spurt, has so rapidly risen that it does not know what to do with its new format. “Booking.com changes faster than people can change,” one of them says. “Booking.com has the problems of a large corporation,” says another, “without the ditto solutions.” Booking.com itself says to encourage employees to criticize and do a lot to support staff.
Some employees were so dissatisfied that they left many ten or even hundreds of thousands of euros in stock bonuses because they did not want to wait until March, the month in which their restricted stock units would be released after three years. “I could have waited longer, but then I would have had to stay in a super stressful place, where I was pulled from all sides. I was really on the verge of a burnout, “says a former manager.
“If you have worked there for a few years, no decent tech company will want to hire you again”
Hi-tech company or not?
Is Booking.com a hi-tech company? It seems like a stupid question, à la “Is Coca-Cola a soft drink manufacturer?” In the media, Booking and predicates such as “tech giant” or “tech giant” are inseparable. Booking.com is generally regarded as the largest tech company in the Netherlands, one of the few European internet giants in the “FAANG” era of Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google.
And certainly, in many ways Booking.com is an impressive technological machine. The website is a sort of giant mouse trap designed by neuromarketers, with virtual blocks of cheese everywhere to catch customers – “Last booked: four minutes ago,” “Three rooms left on our site!” Almost every comma or pixel on Booking.com has been extensively tested on the millions of daily visitors, and behind every place on the website is a team of developers, data scientists, user experience designers and other technicians who work together on that one goal: maximizing the number of reservations.
Yet the answer to the question “no” is that employees argue with de Volkskrant. “We are not a tech company” has more or less grown into a motto internally, they say. “Every time a good technical question was asked during a meeting, executives wondered: hey, we are not a tech company,” says Hugo, a developer. (The names in this article are fictional) The aforementioned (former) employees only wanted to talk on condition of anonymity. “It is a small world, the Dutch tech sector, everyone knows each other.” Just like a poulterer or parquet floorer, with a website is you are not immediately a tech company, neither is a supplier of hotel rooms, chalets and B & Bs. “We are not a tech company, but a company with great technology, is the story internally,” says former manager Mark.
On the other hand, no poulterer or public prosecutor has 2,500 ICT specialists, such as Booking.com, or almost one for every two employees in Amsterdam “We are not a tech company” leads internally to almost existential confusion. “The IT department should be the heart of the company, the name is Booking dot com for good!” Says former manager Adam. He talks about a conversation with a senior IT professional. “He was very positive: we are a tech company.” When I asked my supervisor about it a few years later, he said the exact opposite. ”
Back to the Future, that is what working at Booking.com feels like, says Hugo. “As if you step through a crack in time. Nobody expects to go back in time to a tech company. “” When I started there, I didn’t know that Booking is not really a tech company, “says developer Noah. “I wanted to increase my technical baggage, but soon discovered that there was nothing to learn: the technological level was much lower than in my home country, where it was not very high either.”
As if Max Verstappen had to drive Formula 1 in a Trabant, that is how working with Perl feels for many ICT specialists. “They have an obsession with Perl, the dinosaur language,” writes a software developer on Glassdoor.com. “If you wonder how bad it can be: just google it!” “Many internet companies are stuck in the technological field in the era in which they were founded,” said Robert, a programmer. “At Booking.com, this meant that we had to write code as if we were living somewhere in the late 1990s. Things that are simple in a modern programming language were slow and cumbersome at Booking.com.”
Dinosaur programming language stays
But if Perl is so unloved, why does Booking hold on to it so stubbornly – so stubbornly even that a plea for another language can in the worst case mean end of employment, as happened to one of the sources of the Volkskrant? “Go and tell the British that they will have to drive to the right from now on,” says Felix, the company’s ideas. “Switching programming languages is of that order: everything has to be redesigned, it would be a big mess.” A new language leads to errors and malfunctions, and errors are expensive: every hour the site is down, Booking runs over 1 million euros in sales. It is bursting with confusion among IT specialists at Booking about money-wasting disruptions and feverish searches for the bug. “Booking.com has more than twenty years of experience with Perl,” says Simon, a programmer, “and more than twenty years of experience in finding and fixing errors.”
However, the toll on using Perl is high: a tangle of millions of lines of computer code that can hardly be disentangled and fewer and fewer young people wanting to work with it. “Tech people are constantly wondering: what looks good on my CV?” Says Robert. “Experience with Python or Java is fine, but there are hardly any companies that work with Perl.” “My question during job interviews was always:” Do you know how to program in Perl? “, Adam says. “But so few people said” yes, “that I changed my question from misery to” Are you willing to learn to program in Perl? “” Perl is a dying language, “says Hugo,” even hardcore. ” Perl developers acknowledge that ‘.
“Some employees came from far and wide, only to find out that everything Booking had promised was one big lie”
17 maart 2019, HR-manager of Booking on Glassdoor.com
“What kind of invasion is this?” Robert thought as a tour with 40 new faces passed through his desk. “Out of curiosity, I asked one of them:” Are you the March group of new employees? “” No, “he said,” we are the early March group. The late March group is standing there. “” And indeed, a bit further along, such a crowd appeared. “When I started with Booking, my boss introduced me personally to all IT employees, there were about sixty at the time. When I left, there were 2,400!”
In the spring of 2009, Booking.com had a thousand employees worldwide, ten years later there are eighteen times as many, with 5,500 employees in Amsterdam alone, spread over the stately Berlagian headquarters with clock tower on Rembrandtplein and eleven other locations. Over the next two years, 270 million euros will be set up near the Central Station for a new headquarters, which will bring staff fanned out across the city under one roof. At least, that was once the idea behind the “Booking campus”: by 2021 the company already expects to have so many new employees that some will have to work elsewhere.
“I think Booking should wonder why on earth they hired eighteen thousand people,” says former manager Robin. The years 2016 and 2017, when the number of employees grew explosively from ten to seventeen thousand, formed the pivotal moment at which the discontent began. “Booking kept hiring staff without knowing what to do with it,” says Sofia, a user experience designer. “Then another can of designers was opened, but we had nothing to do with them. You have to imagine: your first month with your new employer and you are only turning your thumbs. Unbelievable, such a waste of money and talent. ”
Booking.com can afford that waste, because the money keeps coming in. “When I was working there, I was able to appoint ten colleagues who were fully paid at home, because Booking didn’t know what to do with them,” says Robin. “Then a team was shut down, or something went wrong, for example, a strategy didn’t work, with the result that people spent months at home.”
That is the crux of the discontent, Noah says: “Booking.com is great at finding talent, but once it works, it turns out that they cannot use their talent to the full 100%.” Volkskrant spoke, is impressed by the efforts that Booking.com is doing for new employees: packing their bags, dismantling the bed, moving boxes in the sea container, booking airline tickets, arranging visas, finding an apartment, paying the rent, finding a school for the children, an application course for the partner – Booking.com would probably arrange a love for their single expats if it was up to them. “When I explained what Booking.com arranged for me, my friends didn’t believe me,” says a programmer.
But after a while at Booking.com, the hangover strikes. “I really broke my head about the question: how can I do something meaningful here,” says Sofia. “New employees are promised the world with the big Booking,” says Robin, “but in the end they may work on a stamp – very simple things, so to speak, shifting the search box a little to the left, or turning something blue into green. ”
“It is true that an employee leaves his manager, not his employer. I have seen that happen a lot with Booking ”
Artificial sense of openness with flat hierarchy
“We are not so hierarchical here,” said former CEO Gillian Tans in the Volkskrant three years ago. And so she doesn’t have her own office, she said, but she just works in the midst of her subordinates, because she wants to know what’s going on in the workplace.
But Booking.com is no longer so hierarchical, says Hugo. “When I explained what Booking.com arranged for me, my friends didn’t believe me,” says a programmer. But after a while at Booking.com, the hangover strikes. “I really broke my head about the question: how can I do something meaningful here,” says Sofia. “New employees are promised the world with the big Booking,” says Robin, “but in the end they may work on a stamp – very simple things, so to speak, shifting the search box a little to the left, or turning something blue into green. ” “It is true that an employee leaves his manager, not his employer. I have seen that happen a lot with Booking ” Artificial sense of openness with flat hierarchy “We are not so hierarchical here,” said former CEO Gillian Tans in the Volkskrant three years ago. And so she doesn’t have her own office, she said, but she just works in the midst of her subordinates, because she wants to know what’s going on in the workplace. But Booking.com is no longer so hierarchical, says Hugo. “There is an artificial sense of openness and flat hierarchy. In reality, the company is actually very rigid. “Adam outlines the expansion of business layers:” About five years ago, the hierarchy looked like this: developer – team lead – senior team lead – chief technology officer (CTO) – CEO. Three years later it was: developer – team lead – senior team lead – manager or software development – senior manager or software development – director or IT – senior director or IT – cto – ceo. Communication is lost between all those extra layers. ”
Booking grew so fast that it began to hand out managerial positions as election folders at a station. “It was a snowball effect,” says Sofia. “A lot of people without a managerial knowledge became managers, a lot of managers without a managerial knowledge became directors.” On Glassdoor.com, it’s raining complaints about Bookings “mediocre managers.” “Many of those complaints,” says Felix, “are inexperienced leaders who try to implement things that are successful at Google or other companies, without understanding why they work well there. That does not mean that those managers are bad, but that they have been promoted too quickly due to Bookings hyper-fast growth. ”
The biggest complaints are about favoritism and opaque promotions. “No show ponies, only work horses” is one of the motto of Booking.com, but it is still the decorative horses and not the work horses that often take credit, says Enzo, a developer. “Talking about a project is often more important at Booking.com than actually implementing it. The requirements for promotions are intentionally vague, as my manager’s boss confirmed to me. This leaves a lot of room for favoritism. ”
The assessments of employees during so-called “calibration sessions” seem just as random. “Most managers only understood 70 percent of what their subordinates did,” says former manager Adam, “and they then told their managers, who understood even less about it. So what do you get with that kind of assessment: a room full of people who don’t know you. ”
“You think you will work at a hip, fast IT company, but it is one big chaos,” says Robin. “There is no clear strategy, everything changes all the time, what you agreed on Monday may be different on Tuesday. There is a lot of favoritism and everywhere people are protecting each other. You get nothing done and you just don’t understand how that is possible. The board has never run a large company before, you notice that they are too inexperienced to keep things under control. Gillian Tans also started when eight people worked at Booking, now there are eighteen thousand. ”
The fact that Booking.com has emerged in recent years as a graveyard of administrators does not make matters any better. It started three years ago with the forced departure of CEO Darren Huston, when the Canadian turned out to have a relationship with an employee, a violation of Booking’s Code of Conduct. A year later, Vice President Remco van Zanten and Cto Brendan Bank (the latter just like Huston after a violation of Bookings Code of Conduct, which is exactly unknown), were followed in recent months by HR boss Yvonne Agyei and financial chief Olivier Bisserier. Agyei had to leave the field after employees had raised the alarm about “psychosocial stress” at the end of March, according to an open letter to Tans available to de Volkskrant. ” We cannot continue to watch our colleagues struggle in this work environment without some support and safety they need.”
After the departure of Bank, Booking was without CTO for over a year and a half, and that for a supposed tech company. “It definitely made matters worse,” says Simon. “There was no clear course from above, and in that vacuum a lot of conflict arose between managers just below the top, who built their own kingdoms. It is better to have a bad dictator than a middle management fighting each other out. “Since November there is a new CTO: Matt Swann, former director at Amazon, Citigroup and StubHub, described by former colleagues on the Blind chat app as” worst cto ever ‘,’ a disaster at Citi ‘and’ no doubt a cto, but then the t stands for theatrical ‘.
And on June 26, Gillian Tans (49) was also suddenly dismissed as CEO. The big earner who grew up in Geldermalsen – her annual salary was more than 12 million euros – had to give way immediately to Glenn Fogel, the CEO of Booking Holdings, the American parent company of Booking.com. Why Booking promoted her away, the company did not disclose, although the increased competition from, among other things, Airbnb, poorly-performing acquisitions and poor symbiosis with sister companies such as Rentalcars.com (rental cars) and Opentable (restaurants) are cited as reasons in various media. Fogel is going to take over the chairmanship of Booking.com next door, while Tans will act as chairman until 30 June next year, a position that until now did not exist at the company. In her new capacity, Tans will “generally work from home,” and only need to “perform activities as far as the CEO has requested it”, without being “entitled to receive such instructions,” Booking writes. a letter to the American financial watchdog SEC.
“I came in motivated but left depressed and exhausted from everything I experienced here. Don’t do this to your career! ”
6 september 2018
Former full-stack developer on Glassdoor.com
“I came in motivated but left depressed and exhausted from everything I experienced here. Don’t do this to your career! ”
6 september 2018, oud-full stack developer on Glassdoor.com
“Burnouts are rampant,” “I’ve never seen so many people struggle with mental health issues,” “If you’re a developer and want to stay healthy, don’t go to this company” – just some reviews on Glassdoor about Booking.com . “The reason I left,” says copywriter Jenny, “is that I didn’t want a burnout. I have seen how many people this happens to Booking and I did not want to be next. ”
“Booking.com is a burn-out machine,” says Felix. “Not because it is so bad per se, but because it is a company that is growing super fast, which brings a lot of stress, and then also in the tech sector, where burn-outs are relatively common anyway.” , the problem worsens. “The Netherlands is small, so a tech company needs a lot of expats here. In their own country, with their own friends and family around them, they might not burn out, but in the Netherlands they have a much smaller social circle to fall back on. ”
“I know enough colleagues who are waiting for a residence permit and therefore prefer to keep their mouth shut because they are afraid of losing their job and not being allowed to stay in the Netherlands,” says Robin. “Those people don’t dare to go against their manager, for example, or are unhappy at work. Some say literally: “My wife is with her, she has no job, so I will keep my mouth shut.”
“I told my wife: it’s just like working in a dirty bathroom, and just scrub and scrub, without getting any cleaner,” expat Robert says about Booking.com. “I can live with a dirty bathroom, as long as I feel it doesn’t stay dirty.”
With the cooperation of Serena Frijters