Back in 1996, I began building a website. An idea came to me: what if anyone could make a hotel reservation online? My programming and computer knowledge came in handy and I decided I needed to see this idea through. That year, I began creating and coding a website that was to become Booking.com.
The first few weeks of the website development were excruciatingly frustrating. No plan seemed to work out. I’d try again. The next plan wouldn’t work out. Data got lost. The server crashed. I needed a different route.
A good friend suggested I use Linux, Apache and Perl to build the site. I went to the bookshop to buy ‘Teach Yourself Perl 5 in 21 days’. After reading the first 10 ‘days’ (which took me about a day), I was convinced I had enough knowledge to build the website.
As the website development progressed, I rented an office in the same building where NLnet, the first internet provider in The Netherlands, was based. My web server sat under my desk. There was no such thing as a “test environment.” All development took place on the live server.
Site goes live!
The exciting “hurray!” moment happened at the end of January 1997: the site went live! A customer made our very first booking on February 8th, 1997. It worked!
That first reservation turned into many more, enough to hire people to join the team two years later. I brought on customer service and account management professionals to work with our hotels and customers to create the best possible experience for both parties. We added new features to the site and in 2000, I hired the first Perl developers to boost functionality even further. They started teaching me things I didn’t know because I never finished the how-to book.
Retiring from development
By 2002, I stopped coding and focused 100% of my time on running the business. We had nearly 50 employees at that time. Just a year later, I had the opportunity to retire, so I resigned my post at Booking.com to spend more time with my family.
Meanwhile, the company soared. Staff numbers doubled every two years and business was booming. Today, we are the world leader in booking accommodations online with millions of visitors and hundreds of thousands reservations happening on the site everyday. At our core, we’re a tech-focused organization, continually adding features and functionality to enhance the customer experience.
Life since Booking.com development
My youngest child started school four years ago. Suddenly, it was very quiet at home without any children around during the day. That was the perfect time for me to start working again, so naturally I applied for a job at Booking.com. Fortunately, I was hired and I’m now proud to report that I work as a Product Owner in the IT department. Every day, I can sense my daily contribution to the site and apps and that feeling is immensely rewarding.
Our Amsterdam-based IT department is packed with a multicultural, highly skilled, diverse team of professionals. We’re an optimistic staff with the shared mentality that the best is yet to come.
Although we are the world leader, there is still plenty of space to grow. Our growth depends so crucially on our exceptionally talented team. If you want to share your skills, contribute to the site, use your own culture and ideas to your advantage, learn from others, live in the beautiful city of Amsterdam and feel proud of your role within a successful international company, apply for an open position today. Give Booking.com a try. I promise you won’t regret it.