Let's catch up with Maartje Jans [F 2014]

About her career at Booking.com

"I think it is very important to ask yourself: what do I want to do, how do I get there and who in my network can help me with that?"

Alumni Maartje Jans talks about her role at Booking.com, about her application process and about her experiences at Booking.com during Corona.

Alumna Maartje Jans [F 2014) Hotel Management School Maastricht
Maartje Jans

How are you? Are you currently working from home or the office? 

I’m good! Working from home is quite hard, especially the social aspect. Actually, it’s really nice to hop on your bike in the morning to go to your office, instead of grabbing a coffee and sitting in the same room all day, staring at your screen. I hop from one online meeting to another, but I enjoy taking a walk in between so I can stretch my legs. Before the summer, we only had one office available for employees to work at. After the summer, all offices closed due to the second COVID-19 uprising.

How is booking.com coping with the COVID-19 situation? 

It is a difficult period. We are one of the industries that is experiencing the hardest setbacks. The world stopped traveling and bookings were cancelled en masse. As a platform, we connect customers with accommodation partners and you need to look for the rights solutions to maintain good relationships with both. For Booking, this also means that we have to reorganize the company. We are still in the middle of this difficult process

Do you have a lot of bookings to Dutch parts of the Caribbean and ski trips to Switzerland? 

In my role, I mainly look worldwide and here we see very clear shifts in customer behavior. Where previously a large part was booked for international and / or business travel, we now mainly see bookings for domestic holidays. In addition, people find it more important nowadays that an accommodation is clean or has free cancellation conditions.

Could you tell me something about yourself? 

I studied Hotel Management in Maastricht. Many people think that if you study hotel management, you will also end up working at a hotel. Nevertheless, a lot of my friends that study Hotel Management are currently working at companies like ING, Heineken, Uber or Douwe Egberts. Just like hotels, these companies mainly focus on improving the customer experience. After finishing Hotel Management, I started my masters in Business Administration at the UvA in Amsterdam. I also became a member of the FSA and participated in the Research Project. For me, this was the perfect opportunity to meet new people. I am still in contact with most of the other participants of the Research Project. After obtaining my masters certificate, I started applying for traineeships. Eventually, I ended up in the graduate programme of Booking.com. I followed a traineeship which includes three different projects within one year, of which one is always abroad. After this, you will be evaluated and often you will be placed in your latest project team. For me, this was within the Pricing department at the Ranking team. After doing this for a year, I changed from the Ranking team to the Genius team.

Could you tell me a bit more about your current position at Booking.com?  

In my role as product marketeer, I work with my product team to develop and launch new rewards for the Genius loyalty program, with the aim of further expanding the program and creating increasingly more value for both the customer and the accommodation partners like Booking.com. When developing these rewards, we often start with market research to find out where the greatest opportunities lie. Accordingly, you validate the hypotheses in small steps, build mock ups and ask for feedback from both customers and accommodation partners. After a number of iterations, you launch the new product/reward as an experiment and you immediately find in the data: is my hypothesis correct and does it yield more value? I am also responsible for the end-to-end journey, I build the strategy to position the product in the market and find the right product-market fit to scale up.

What is it that you like so much about your job at Booking.com?

Booking.com is one of the largest Tech companies in the world and everything we do is based on data. You generate that data by running experiments (about 70 per day), so everything on the website is conversion driven. We test something, for example a yellow or green button. You automatically learn whether things work or not and this saves a lot of discussions. An impact can be made worldwide through these experiments. Also at Booking.com you get a lot of freedom and you work together with colleagues from all over the world!

Have you always had this position after completing the traineeship at Booking.com?

Yes indeed, yet within different teams and levels. First I was a graduate, so that was much broader and I worked in a local office. Such a local team is for instance needed if you roll out your product at a specific location. This was also part of my first year. I went to London to understand how such a local team operates. You might compare a local team to a sales team, just like account managers who work here for Heineken, they work for the products we build.

How did the application process go? 

There were three rounds, and after the last round I quickly got a job offer. Booking.com has different graduate programs, after which you can grow and have the opportunity to develop yourself in a different area if you want to. Booking.com never stops and is always changing.

Do you have any recommendations for a job application? 

It is especially good to consider what kind of company you want to work for. For example, Booking.com is a very data driven tech company, where many changes happen very quickly. Personally, I think that’s really cool, however it has to suit you, since it can also be chaotic. I think it is very important to ask yourself: what do I want to do, how do I get there and who in my network can help me with that?

Did you have doubts between other companies?

No, actually I did not. In the beginning I had a lot of doubts, because I had little experience and the competition was fierce. With the experience I have gained, I no longer think that I would fit in a hierarchical company with slow decision making processes. I really like to have a lot of flexibility and the possibility that you can build your own end journey.

What are important skills to have in your job? 

A customer centered approach, flexibility, stakeholder management, being able to work in an international environment, being able to search for scalable solutions, and to work agile and with a lean approach. The latter meaning, a way of thinking that allows you to validate and develop solutions to a problem effectively and quickly.

Last question, where do you see yourself in a few years? 

For now, I want to develop myself further within the Genius team, as I still see many possibilities there. Loyalty is something that genuinely interests me, since every company wants to have loyal customers. I can see myself working here in the future, but it might be that something new comes up. As long as I keep learning!

Source: The Financial Study association Amsterdam

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