Top manager Booking away after controversial retweets

September 10, 2019 by No Comments

Steve Sonne, top manager at Booking Holdings, resigned on Tuesday after unrest arose among the staff of the American-Dutch hotel site because of tweets he had sent. Sonne made the decision to leave Booking “to reduce further distractions for the company and employees,” a company spokesperson reported. NRC.

Last week it turned out that Sonne had shared messages from Trump supporters and alt-right news sites on his personal Twitter account (twenty followers). For example, Sonne retweeted a message with a photo of armed women and the text ‘the Muslim rape gangs should try their shit in Israel or Texas‘. He was also critical of the Black Lives Matter movement, for which Booking CEO Glenn Fogel had previously publicly expressed his support. Sonne has been a top lawyer for Booking Holdings in the US since 2013, the parent company of the Dutch Booking.com, which has been in American hands since 2005.

A few months ago, the Booking.com works council in the Netherlands complained about Sonne after the Works Council received signals from employees that he was sharing messages via his personal account that were not in line with Booking’s code of conduct.

Booking then had a law firm assess Sonne’s tweets. That concluded that Sonne had not violated the code of conduct, but also that there were “points for improvement”. He was initially allowed to stay on, but now keeps the credit to himself.

OR was rather still toothless

The fact that Sonne is resigning in the US after a complaint from the Dutch Booking-OR shows the changed relationships within the booking group. Until three years ago, the Works Council was a toothless body at Booking, but has gained considerably in strength and assertiveness, mainly due to the difficult negotiations about a social plan. The social plan was necessary because Booking’s turnover has been decimated due to the stagnation of the travel market in corona times.

Sonne could not be reached for comment. Last week he left NRC by email that he felt he had made a mistake by sharing the old photo of the armed women. “When I retweeted this image five years ago, my intention was to condemn violence against women and support their right to self-defense. I now understand how offensive this message was and I sincerely apologize for retweeting it,” he wrote at the time.