Booking.com CEO addresses company's future in employee letter

Miles Hurley Miles Hurley Uploaded 25 March 2020

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US: In a letter to his company’s employees, Booking Holdings CEO Glenn Fogel has outlined the company’s coronavirus strategy.

The company, which owns leading OTA Booking.com. has committed to cutting spending, salaries, and implementing a company-wide hiring freeze.

Fogel said: “This is not the first major disruption to travel we have endured as a business, but the impact of COVID-19 is more than all the previous disruptions I mentioned combined. We know that eventually COVID-19 will no longer dominate our lives and prevent people from traveling, but no one knows for sure when this will happen. It is going to get worse before it gets better.”

The three lead brand executives as well as Fogel have forfeited their salaries for the time being in order to keep the business going. The board of directors has similarly refused cash retainers for the foreseeable future.

The transcript for the company’s 2019 Q4 earnings call released on Monday also reveals the company’s intention to cut down on costs moving forward. The CEO framed the efforts as a part of continuing corporate maintenance.

Fogel said in response to a question on the virus: “I believe it’s also very natural, as companies grow very rapidly and achieve great success on the bottom line, sometimes discipline lightened up a little bit. So certainly, before the coronavirus, I was already thinking that we need to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to spend money correctly.”

The letter announces no plans for any staff cuts, whereas companies like Marriott and Sonder are either cutting or furloughing employees to keep costs down.

Fogel ended his letter by appealing to those fighting the virus and those optimistic in spite of its setbacks. In response to Italian street songs and Disney donations he said: “It is moments like these that demonstrate how beautiful this world truly is.”

You can read the letter’s full transcript here.

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