Life at trivago

July 1, 2020

On the 4th of September 2018 at 11:25 CEST, I landed in Leipzig, Germany with a one-way ticket. I moved to Germany for the single intention to join trivago and contribute to mission and vision of the Express BookingA trivago product that allows OTAS and Hotel Chains to expand their businesses to new markets and increase conversation while promoting their brand and competing with big players with ease. team. In this article, I share my experience at trivago and, I hope you enjoy it.

Relocating to Germany

When moving to a new country for employment, two things that can stress you out are Visa and Accommodation. Luckily for me, the good folks at trivago had those sorted out. The HR and Office Management team were extremely helpful with the visa process and had a temporary residence sponsored by trivago prepared for me until I settle into the new city.I think this changed a year after I joined and you had to pay a penny and could only stay there for up to 3 months.

If you are moving to a non-English-speaking country like Germany, then you have one more thing to worry about - Language. A huge consolation for me was, Germany has lots of internationals that speak fluent English so, the language was not much of a problem. Although some public offices where one needs to do compulsory city registrations had only German-speaking employees, I didn’t have to worry about this as some colleagues in HR and Office Management would offer to go with me for these registrations and support with translations when needed.

In retrospect, my relocation was smooth and without stress, and I have the HR and Office Management folks to thank for that, with personal gratitude to Sören Ille and Cinthia Solorio; you guys ROCK!!!

My First Experience

Before my relocation, my general knowledge about Germany ranged very little to nothing. However, I knew it was one of the most powerful countries in Europe and the world at large. As a result, I made some assumptions. One of those assumptions almost got me stranded at the Leipzig airport on arrival.

Hear me out, I come from a developing country where cashless was a thing and, you didn’t have to worry about moving around with cash. All you needed was your debit card; as almost all businesses even small businesses had POS machines and, paying with a debit card was a norm. Plus, UBER also worked.

I came to Germany with the assumption that, if this was possible in Nigeria, then why travel to a country like Germany with cash. So, I came with no cash, solely dependent on my debit card. I checked myself out of the Leipzig airport with my backpack and one big hand luggage, ready to take a taxi to the address I was given.

Quick shot from my window seat few seconds before landing at the Leipzig / Halle Airport.

The first thing I did was connect to the Airport WI-FI, launched the Uber app on my phone and that was when I saw the notice, “Unfortunately, Uber is not available in your area.”. I was like this is impossible, it must be my internet. I restarted my WIFI and re-connected hoping that would fix the issue but after multiple restarts and re-connections, I asked for help and, it turned out Uber wasn’t available in Leipzig.

I also couldn’t use the local taxi as their only accepted payment method was cash. To cut the long story short, my saving grace was a young fella who agreed to accept PayPal for cash which is how I was able to eventually take the local taxi to my final destination. I think I spent roughly 2 hours at the airport after checking out.

The Check-in Week

As a newbie in trivago, you undergo a 5-day onboarding program hence the name Check-in Week. The check-in week takes place at the company campus in Dusseldorf, Germany and the goal was to create a welcoming, insightful and challenging start for the newbies and more importantly to ensure that newbies understand the business model, connect with the company culture and feel empowered to make an impact.

Day 1

On the first day, you get a general overview of trivago from the business model -> core values -> organizational structure. You also get to meet lots of people while browsing through the beautiful campus. You end the day by getting your work laptop and setting up your email, slack, and other communication tools used at trivago.

Meeting room at the trivago campus.
trivago Culture Kitchen

Day 2 - 4

By day two, you should have your laptop and work email setup. Once you log into your email, in your inbox awaits Jira tickets to be completed by you. The tickets involve simple things like updating your info in Workday, going to Wage and Accounting to get your salary account all sorted if you want to get paid.

In the next 2 - 4 days, you are divided into groups for group activities and case studies. A representative from each pillar/department in the organisational structure comes in to discuss the role, structure and functions of their pillar and how it aligns with trivago’s overall mission as a company. This is also an opportunity for you to see how your role and team fits into the trivago ecosystem. Afterwards, each group is given a case study to show their understanding of the pillar functions.

Overall, the case studies were fun and challenging. There were even times we had to stay until 9 pm to complete them. Particularly for me, the marketing case study stood out.

Day 5

That last day is what I like to call fun day. Each group were given a tablet with a game we had to play. The game involves walking around the city of Dusseldorf, finding items and locations, taking pictures of landmarks, meeting at specific locations at specific times etc. Each achievement had a score and there was a prize for the winning team.

Even though my team didn’t win, we still got the chance to end the day by celebrating the end of a successful checkin week at a local pub that brews its own beer. And as per trivago’s fashion, we were allowed to drink as much as we want for free while sitting and reflecting back on our respective experiences of the check-in week. We all exchanged contacts and went our separate ways to the remote offices.

The Team

I would never forget my first day at the Leipzig office after the check-in week. Luckily for me, my first day commute to the office was quite short, I just had to take a 1 minutes elevator ride down to the first floor, since I was staying at the company residence on the third floor in the same building.

After getting information overload from the check-in week, I was ready to jump into work mode. I went straight to where my colleagues from office management were sitting. They kindly gave me the tour of the office and introduced me to my team and manager.

In my first meeting with my manager, he gave me a confluence page prepared for me with a detailed outline of tasks and activities that were planned for me to help me smoothly integrate into the team. By the end of the meeting, he showed me where I would be seating.During my time at trivago, I changed seat at least 3 times.

My first day at the Leipzig office with my desk decorated with a welcome card.

The Leipzig office had this culture of putting your country’s flag at the entrance of the office when a newbie joins. My desk had been decorated and there was a welcome card with little notes from every member of the team. I have never felt more welcome.

20 month down the line, and I must confess that my teammates are some of the finest, smartest, kindest people I have ever worked with. I am very happy I had the opportunity to meet every single person at the Leipzig office and more importantly work closely with every member of the Express Booking team.

One of my favorite team moment. We had just concluded a meeting about PSD2
A quick tour with the team at the trivago campus after Tech Get Together 2019

The Product

trivago is a meta-search company. The simplest way to think about trivago is “Google” but for hotels and alternative accommodations. After picking a travel destination, picking the perfect accommodation for your stay at that destination can be quite a challenge because there is so much variable to consider coupled with the fact that the same accommodation can have different prices across multiple OTAOTA is an acronym for Online Travel Agency. You can find a list of OTA here or booking platforms.

trivago has mastered the art of guiding you to finding the best accommodation for your travel or business destinations while comparing prices of millions of accommodation from small, medium, and big OTA.

At trivago, we care for the OTA as much as we do for the customers. This is why we have a product called Express Booking, built to help small, medium and even big OTA increase conversion by entering new markets without worrying above content localization or payment methods. Visit this page to learn more about trivago express booking.

My team was responsible for the customer experience of Express booking. After a user choose a rate on trivago and, they get redirected to Express booking, my team was responsible for smoothly guiding the customer to making a successful booking. In general, we empower the users by:

Planning your next vacation? Make sure to use trivago for your next booking in order to get the cheapest or best deal depending on what you are looking for.

The Company

If you got here, then you most likely already know a lot about trivago. Regardless, there are a few things I want to highlight about trivago. I don’t know what you’ve heard about trivago, but take it from me “trivago is a good place to work.” The salary might not be as competitive as what you are used to, but the company makes up for it with other benefits you likely don’t get elsewhere.

Few of those benefits include unlimited vacation days, Tech Get Together( an internal tech conference), yearly training and conference budget, trivago On Tour, bi-weekly and monthly team events. Unfortunately, I only had the opportunity to experience one Tech Get Together and one trivago On Tour. If you are interested, continue reading for more details about both events in the next two sections.

Tech Get Together

trivago Tech Get Together is a unique internal tech conference that unites all trivago tech talents from across all pillars and locations to foster communication, trust and knowledge exchange. The 2019 edition had ~190 talks submitted and over 65 accepted after rigorous review and voting.

The highlight for me was the fact that 98% of those talks were prepared and presented by trivago talents. We also had guest speakers from Expedia, HomeAway and HotelsCom.

Rolf Schrömgens - trivago CEO in 2019 giving the opening remarks.

The talks were categorised into People/Team/Leadership, Programming languages & Techniques, Software & Applications, Mobile, Big Data & Data Science, Product, Infrastructure & DevOps, Design UI/UX and Various for talks that didn’t fit into the other categories. One interesting talk in the various category I clearly remember was A beginners guide to engineering bread. Talents learnt how to make bread, and it was indeed an interesting session.

My favourite talk was Designing understandable data visualizations, presented by Ana Risteska. Where she teaches how to use the power of visual attributes to communicate data without putting too much strain on the user’s brain. You can download the presentation here.

I enjoyed all the session I attended and gained knowledge about things I didn’t previously know. I also had the opportunity to see and speak with the engineers from remote offices that I regularly work with, but had communication limited to slack and video calls.

trivago On Tour

At trivago, 4 core company events happen every year, one of them is the trivago on tour which happens to be an annual trip for all trivago employees and frankly my favourite.

The activities and destination are guarded secrets, this means you wouldn’t know where you were going until you got there. Before d-day, some employees would have spread all kinds of rumours and gossips about the location and activities. No one validates or denies any of the rumours(FUN!!!), so we are left dreaming of where the journey might take us until we have arrived to our destination for the event.

Each tour had a different theme and destination. I missed the 2018 tour because I arrived at the company one month late. The 2018 tour was in an old military base near Dusseldorf and the theme was about endurance and helping each other conquer obstacles and challenges during trying times by working together as one team.

In 2019, the tour took us to Austria by train, and the theme was around one of trivago’s core value #trust. trivago gave all employees the opportunity to shape the tour with whatever hidden talents they have. We also had other fun activities including a short and long-distance hike, fun games, parties and lots of alcohol. Below are some pictures I took in Austria.

Some of my teammate at the tour. From L-R Myself, Axel, Sven and Florian
The clouds were just too gorgeous…soo blue
View from the mountain top after hiking for about 10KM.
No caption :wink

I enjoyed my time at trivago, and I highly recommend it as an employer. In my opinion, trivago is one of the best places to work in Germany!. trivago is always hiring, feel free to check out their career page for open positions.

Life at trivago - July 1, 2020 - Oshomo Oforomeh