Late in April 2018, as the sun finally found its way through the clouds and we could – at last – wave goodbye to winter, Booking.com quietly created a pop-up hotel in the middle of a park in Amsterdam. You couldn’t stay there though, no one could, unless of course you were one of 48 young creatives given the chance to work on a project that could potentially shape the rest of their careers.

At Booking.com, we believe talent comes in many forms, and while we acknowledge the importance of experience, we also love innovation. Working in collaboration with JongeHonden, we invited 24 creative duos – all under 30, from different backgrounds and locations – to showcase their fresh ideas. The prize? An opportunity to participate at the Cannes Young Lions in June 2018. The catch? The teams had just 24 hours to come up with the winning concept.

We caught up with two of the people behind the initiative to find out more. Luis Ortiz is a Senior Global Communications Creative, with years of experience in content marketing and brand storytelling, while Caroline Hagoort is a Global Producer, focused on creating content our worldwide audience wants to watch.

“We were thrilled to have run our first 24-hour creative communications sprint together with JongeHonden in an effort to further empower the next generation of creative leaders. Using the Booking.com tech hackathons as inspiration, the idea behind this event was to truly embrace agility and velocity” said Luis.

But why do all this in a pop-up hotel and not an office? “We found it important to create a place where the creatives could do their best work. So, together with The Good Guyz, we designed a pop-up hotel in the Transformatorhuis in Westerpark, where the teams could spend a whole day and night. Each had their own workplace and bunk bed to sleep in.”

And while the space was designed to be relaxing and comfortable, these young creatives were put to the test, solving a real business case, with a very real deadline. But it wouldn’t be very Booking.com if there wasn’t a little fun thrown in. As Luis points out, “it wasn’t all about the work – we came up with few ideas to make the whole experience just a little bit more fun and energising; think 2am bootcamps and 7am yoga classes.” Oh, and an in-house masseuse, to keep the stress levels down. But don’t let massages and yoga classes fool you, these teams worked hard. “One thing that really stood out during the 24 hours was the energy the participants brought to the event. All of the teams worked hard, and kept the spirit of both a healthy and fair competition alive.”

Then it came time to pitch to a panel of judges, made up of seasoned pros from Booking.com and JongeHonden. A whole host of diverse ideas were put forth, some big and bold, others a little more subtle, but all exciting. “I was really amazed with the quality of the pitches and what the creatives had come up with in such a short amount of time” remarked Caroline. And Luis agreed, adding “working with young talent is always very exciting as they aren’t afraid to fail, and as a result their approach is often bold and challenges the status quo. As digital natives, they have a critical understanding of the current media landscape and can therefore think outside of the box” – something we very much appreciate here at Booking.com.

After the event, both Caroline and Luis looked back at an eye-opening occasion. As Caroline put it, “the key takeaway for me is, it’s refreshing to see that we have some great young talent out there, and I feel it’s important to invest in them and give them a platform.” And Luis echoed this with his own final thoughts, “as a senior creative, it’s fantastic to be part of Booking.com and see the commitment we make towards cultivating young talent and we’re constantly looking to this generation to inspire us”.

With the judging done and the concepts being formed into campaign ideas, Luis points out that it’s time to do something very Booking.com indeed. “We’ll now turn to testing the strongest concepts to understand what works and what doesn’t, in order to find the ideas that truly support our vision of empowering people to experience the world.” While we’re testing, our young creatives will be back in the world, using what they’ve learned to shape campaigns for other brands. Or simply enjoying a celebratory craft beer or two – after all, they are millennials (p/s this was written by a millennial).

If you want to work for a company that values ideas, fresh perspectives and those that challenge the status quo – whatever age they may be – then join us. Take a look at our latest jobs to see where you could innovate next.