Improving the image of travel tech through the eyes of Booking.com
From the perspective of the sub-sector, accommodation, Booking.com is a technology-based platform, one of the biggest companies operating in the travel and tourism domain, influencing and dominating the way consumers book their stay. Booking.com showcases the future of Europe and is actively playing a role in attracting more tech talent towards the EU. Therefore good universities are needed and businesses and politics should lead to improve the image of tech in Europe. The Next Tourism Generation followed a deep conversation with Booking.com during The Next Web Conference in The Netherlands. In this blog the Next Tourism Generation Alliance (NTG) summarises the key facts from this interesting talk with Gillian Tans, chairman at Booking.com, the woman behind the growth of the online booking platform for accommodation. The talk included discussion about what companies can do to improve the image of working in travel?
The importance of diversity and woman in travel tech jobs
The total global workforce of women at Booking.com, is comprised of more than 50 percent. However, there are still only 20% of women within tech roles and the company focuses on improving this percentage. There is a growing need for more leading women in this industry. A question related to women in tech is often: how can we attract and keep more women in technology-based jobs? Booking.com said they can play an import role in what the industry can do now, internally and externally.
There are a few indicators for success:
- mentorships and female role models
- awards (to recognize women in companies and changing industries)
- web summits to gain knowledge
- sponsoring of scholarships for women
Within Booking.com, employees from over 140 nationalities work on a daily basis on products and service development?. Diversity is part of their DNA. Technology will bring social and economic changes, but also divide society. As Gillian Tans said, the government is often the facilitator of growth in technology, but tech companies have an important role in making technology-related jobs accessible and divers, also in travel. The company says it can be more successful once diversity is seen not only as an essential part of the workforce but as a key success factor or benefit to thriving business.
Empower people to experience the world; starting with employees
The company started in Amsterdam The Netherlands and is a global leader today. The Dutch are in the minority nowadays, for example, the traditional Dutch lunch disappeared. Starting in Amsterdam helped Booking.com to welcome international, entrepreneurial employees. The city seems a perfect place for a business to grow and bring the talent. It is Holland who built a global business within the travel industry, which is not so strange since Dutch people love to travel all over the world.
Booking.com is the largest booking website in Europe. The company helps accommodation providers to see how they can use the internet optimally and enlarge the reach. The future of travel depends on the developments of tech in travel as the customer wants a seamless experience and searches for options such as;
- the perfect place to stay
- skipping the line?
- How to find a museum
- How to find a transport station
- How to find what suits them best according to their own interest.
When it comes to innovation, for the main part travelers themselves decide what future provision looks like. When companies keep innovating and developing what customers are looking for, it stimulates the inner explorer of the customer. This means more time and freedom are needed to have the opportunity to discover the world. For the tech company, this involves building a better-empowered visitor experience at the core of the service product. Additionally, employees must believe in this by following the customer along the visitor journey, by testing, innovating and developing products.
The future of travel is sustainable
Travel companies increasingly need to be aware of what sustainability means for tourism, especially in the eyes of the customers. To innovate more quickly on tourism impacts and sustainability, the Booking Booster program selects and funds 10 startups in sustainable tourism. Climate change, behavior and technology are key topics and expertise fields in the Booking Booster program. Under the flag of ‘responsible urban tourism’, Booking Cares has started to help destinations and cities on the tourism impacts they are struggling with.
”When a mission comes together and it excites many people, people will contribute to that”, said Gillian. In this way, the company adopts a startup mentality.
Gillian makes a very clear statement on how to use their own workforce to lead sustainable change in travel:
”Looking ahead, we’re going to continue to harness the power of our people and expertise to lead sustainable change through innovation and collaboration. We are intensifying our investment of time, expertise, and capital into (Booking) Cares, exploring and learning how best to protect the future of the destinations we love.”
By Lobke Elbers, industry specialist digitalization and technology in travel, tourism & hospitality. Lobke is working at Breda University of Applied Sciences, one of the key partners of the Next Tourism Generation Alliance and responsible for the communication and the dissemination of the NTG project.