“We have closely followed the debate in Dutch society in recent days, we take this extremely seriously, and are aware of the sensitivity of this subject,” Booking.com said in a statement. The watchword. “During the pandemic, we made the best possible use of the options available to guide Booking.com through the crisis and retain employment, including relying on the NOW scheme.”
Minister Wouter Koolmees said he had been called by the company on Friday morning. ‘I think it’s fair and sensible that they pay back, given the bonuses for the board.’
The company received more than 100 million euros in government support worldwide. Of this, Booking received about 65 million euros in support from the Dutch government. It also borrowed more than three billion euros. When the NRC recently reported in this article that Booking was adjusting its own remuneration rules, so that the millions of bonuses from the top were guaranteed, there was great indignation in the Netherlands. The three-member American board received disproportionate share packages worth more than 28 million euros. Precisely the grabbing culture that many Dutch people detest.
Booking wanted to pay the extreme bonuses to keep people for the company, the documents say. Employees at Booking.com’s head office in Amsterdam received an average of 80 percent of the maximum bonus over 2020, which is usually about 15 percent of an annual salary. Here too, ‘retention considerations’ played an important role, NRC discovered. “By maintaining the rewards for key employees, Booking wants to prevent them from switching to tech companies that are not affected by the pandemic, such as Google, Facebook or Spotify.” The bonuses now remain, the eagerly swallowed Dutch corona support is now being refunded. How much brand and image damage this situation has caused Booking is still unknown.