Accommodation hosts have run out of patience and flooded the personal LinkedIn profile of Glenn Fogel, the President and CEO of Booking, who has 26,000 followers. In addition to outstanding payments, these complainants are questioning Booking’s top executive about IT security issues and data theft. The Brand Manager of Booking, Natalie Wills, deleted favorable comments and blocked complaining users on her own profile.
Booking.com Controversy on LinkedIn: Accommodation hosts have resorted to an unusual method, a tool they rarely used before. A portion of these hosts, located all around the world, has still not received payments from Booking.com for guests who stayed at their establishments and made their reservations through the platform. Among the recurring themes in this wave of complaints is dissatisfaction not only with the templated responses from customer service but also with the Booking.com leadership, which essentially ignores the complaints, fails to provide meaningful responses to inquiries, and remains silent on the issues in official statements.
Glenn Fogel, the CEO of Booking, posted an update on LinkedIn a few days ago, discussing the application of artificial intelligence (AI) at an international Booking conference. In his post, he expressed that AI holds significant potential for further optimizing the customer and partner experiences. However, his previous posts have not been spared from the criticism of frustrated accommodation hosts who are waiting for their payments.
The hosts reached their breaking point after months of futile waiting and meaningless exchanges with customer service. They began to question Booking’s CEO in comments. Due to the peculiar workings of LinkedIn, these critical comments are easily visible to the user’s entire professional network, and in most cases, they are indeed seen. This means that Glenn Fogel will not be able to use LinkedIn as his personal communication channel in the future unless he responds satisfactorily or resolves the situation; one potential solution is to block all those who have left negative comments on any of his posts, just as Booking.com’s Brand Manager, Natalie Wills, did on September 21st. Her action followed the appearance of uncomfortable comments on her latest posts, most of which she deleted. This is an interesting approach from the leader of such a large company, and while it may not be against the rules, there is a technical possibility for such action.
Comment Tsunami on the Booking CEO’s LinkedIn Profile
The comments were written by accommodation providers from all around the world, and there doesn’t seem to be any correlation between nationalities. The common thread among them is that they are all waiting for the money they are owed, and they have been waiting for months. Here are a few selected ones, without claiming to be exhaustive. You can read the post and all the comments here:
“It’s great that they’re looking for innovations, but currently, booking.com can’t even handle the payment system. Due to the ‘maintenance work’ carried out during the summer months (!!!), thousands of small hotels have not received payments from customers who booked through booking.com. Booking.com has blocked payments since June and has closed off any possibility of contacting the financial department.”– sarcastically noted by an apartment owner from Spain.
“Perhaps it’s time to convince yourself to address uncomfortable issues and act responsibly. Explain to the world what went wrong in terms of IT security, why the ‘error’ occurred in the payment system, and why hosts are still waiting for payments months later. And while you’re at it, you could also tell us why it seems like you don’t care?“– wrote one from the Netherlands.
“Joining all the other comments here, I’m also not receiving payments (in Brazil). We keep sending messages, and we receive the same automated responses, and nothing changes. It’s impossible to get through! This is an absurd situation, while the BDC (Booking dot com – ed.) leadership poses as if they’re such a ‘great company’… Have you realized that many businesses are going bankrupt because BDC doesn’t care about hosts??? Glenn Fogel, surely, can do something. Pay us one by one and don’t forget to compensate us (we all have problems due to your negligence).”– wrote a host from Brazil.
“Shame on you, you lie to us every week, you use our money without being able to provide a meaningful answer as to when we’ll get what’s rightfully ours. I took out a loan to cover expenses, and now I’m paying interest because of you. You’re causing continuous stress with your weekly lies. You owe me over 10,000 euros, when will I get my money???? Shame.”– states the next comment from Denmark.
“I’m one of the thousands – using your platform – hosts currently owed thousands of pounds. Failed AI or something else? Where is the apology and leadership for making things right?”– poses a legitimate question from the United Kingdom.
Glenn Fogel: “One of the most important things I’ve learned throughout my career is the power of listening to others.”
The situation becomes even more contrasting when we look at his post from one month ago and the fresh reactions to it! I’ll provide the entire post:
“One of the most important things I have learned throughout my career is the power of listening to others. So many of the best qualities found in people – from empathy and humility to a willingness to learn and the ability to connect with anyone, anywhere – stem from this singular skill. I recently finished reading Oscar Munoz’s book ‘Turnaround Time,’ which delves into these very topics. […] Those in the travel industry and beyond can glean a wealth of valuable insights from this book.”
The hosts waiting for their money seized the opportunity:
Well then, it’s a pity you’re not currently using the power of listening to others. Booking.com hosts haven’t received payments from you since June. We asked you to honestly explain what went wrong. Apologize, compensate, and pay! – it was written from the United Kingdom.
Hi Glenn Fogel, that’s the point!! Silence is golden! […] Keep it up, and don’t bother with hosts who haven’t been paid for months (in the words of the hosts – the editor)! – it was messaged from Denmark.
Boasting on social media can easily backfire.
The LinkedIn platform is particularly interesting because it primarily hosts meaningful discussions, mostly about professional topics, and provides an excellent platform for users to showcase their activities. It’s not surprising that people typically report their successes, new certifications, and promotions, rather than their failures. Those who use LinkedIn regularly know that it’s a space for self-promotion, and many reactions to leaders’ posts are often more about courtesy than genuine agreement or approval.
On LinkedIn, many of those who like or react to leaders’ or influential individuals’ posts often do so to gain visibility themselves, to have their name circulate within their professional network.
Posts typically describe events or stories that provide a reason for everyone to feel good, and it’s appreciated when colleagues and professional contacts respond with approval. It’s common for these reactions to be multiplied by about two.
According to research, 65% of respondents stated that they share professional content on LinkedIn to increase their personal visibility, while 64% specifically share content on the platform to enhance their professional reputation.
LinkedIn is indeed an incredibly effective communication tool, with significantly better organic reach than platforms like Facebook or Instagram. Messages can easily reach a wide audience.
However, if critical and dissatisfied comments are unleashed under a boastful post, the entire network becomes aware of the issues associated with the user in question. This is currently happening with the CEO of Booking, who has five possible ways to respond to this situation:
- Respond to comments in an acceptable manner (which has not happened so far but is hoped for).
- Don’t respond but start addressing the problem (we’re strongly hoping for).
- Respond in a central communication (many are expecting this, and it would be the courteous thing to do).
- Delete critical comments (not recommended, as there are many screenshots of them, and it would be a PR disaster).
- Don’t respond and completely ignore (pressure will continue to mount under each new post, and rumors will circulate in professional and investor circles).
- Blocking users who have posted negative comments on any of the posts, as Booking.com’s Brand Director, Natalie Wills, did on September 21st, is another option.
The ending of this story is currently uncertain, and predicting…well, it is difficult. However, this case is exceptionally instructive, regardless of the industry, and holds lessons for everyone. It’s interesting to note the contrast with the newly appointed CEO of the Australian airline Qantas, who publicly apologized to passengers for the mistakes and incorrect procedures of the previous period.