The crisis makes the star of the online booking site Booking.com turn pale
The party is over: For the first time in its history, Booking.com is considering a social plan and, perhaps, layoffs. Caught up in the pandemic due to the coronavirus, the young and flourishing accommodation reservation company, world leader in its sector, saw, during the last month, its activity fall by 85% compared to the same period in 2019, year during which the site had recorded 850 million overnight stays.
The public authorities were called for help in the Netherlands, cradle of the company created in 1996, in Enschede (East), by Geert-Jan Bruinsma, a 28-year-old entrepreneur.
On April 10, Glenn Fogel, the CEO of the company, announced in a videoconference that layoffs were “likely” . A first and a shock for a company that has gone from being a start-up to a multinational in just a few years. Today, it has 17,500 employees, including 5,500 at the group’s headquarters in Amsterdam. In France, its customer service, based in Tourcoing (Nord), should have 850 by the end of the year.
The controversy swells
Boasting, until then , to be one of the rare players in the tourism sector not to have cut jobs, Booking has asked for help in order to be able to maintain the income of its employees. In the Netherlands, the amount that the State granted it, but the controversy swells: recognized for its creativity and its sense of innovation, Booking is also renowned for its ability to use the strings of fiscal engineering.
L He Dutch state offers a very favorable status to multinationals and, moreover, to innovative companies. The reservations company is estimated to have benefited so far from some € 2.2 billion in total rebates.
“We’re not here for tax benefits, we’re Amsterdam ”, , however, recently affirmed Mr. Fogel to the daily NRC Handelsblad , author of a vast investigation into the situation of the company. According to the CEO, the company has paid a total of 3.7 billion euros in taxes in Europe so far, much of it in the Netherlands. “More than Shell” , he emphasizes. For the latter, however, it would now be a matter of studying “the shape and size” of the future Booking.
The image of the “cool” company, trendy, and very profitable may be quite different at the end of the crisis
The image of the company “cool”, connected, and very profitable – an annual turnover of some 10 billion euros and a profit close to 3.5 billion -, therefore risks being quite different at the end of the crisis. A hard blow for its employees, accustomed to a corporate culture deemed to be non-directive, with substantial bonuses and obvious well-being: the “Booking evenings” and trips on the canals in the boat bearing the name of the company are famous in Amsterdam.