Wouter Blok, VP Performance Marketing at GetYourGuide, explains why he traded independent contracting for a full-time role. The Performance Marketing department is in charge of customer acquisition and retention across the online channels paid & organic search, display, and CRM.
As business owners, they’re largely accountable for ambitious growth targets and set the channel strategy for cross-functional teams including product, engineering, analytics, and content. As part of the greater Marketing Group, Performance Marketing collaborates closely with the Brand team to reach and engage their target audience online, and give the whole world access to unforgettable travel experiences.
After growing two startups to acquisition, and managing the partnership with Booking.com at Google, I entered a portfolio career that showed me the inner workings of a lot of companies at various stages of growth. As an interim growth marketing leader, I’d assess the company’s maturity phase (working with startup clients as well as corporations) and help get them set up across people, processes, and technology.
The family feel and strong purpose at startups was invigorating, yet the level of human and capital resources often prevented innovation at a large scale. The scale of corporate clients allowed for that large scale impact, yet the culture lacked trust and an appetite for innovation. I would move on when the excitement of the challenge wore off, after hitting a couple of milestones and the discovery phase moved into pure execution and bore-out.
How different the experience was when I joined GetYourGuide in May 2019 as a contractor — finally a company that harnessed things that were the best of both worlds!
GetYourGuide’s founders were introduced to me when they just started in 2011. We even initiated an affiliate partnership with the hotel reservation website I was CMO at. Being on the inside almost a decade later, it became quite clear that they had taken valuable lessons from their angel investors at Booking.com.
There’s strong, top-level alignment on quarterly objectives and key results while keeping decision-making and execution power as close to the multidisciplinary teams as possible. Rightfully so, as they have the best view on what our customer’s needs are and how to delight them. This allows GetYourGuide to have a high and accelerating learning velocity that increases the defensibility of the business.
This is a very appealing environment for a restless explorer like myself. I’m at a moment in my career where I want to increase the impact on other people’s careers, while pushing the envelope on my personal development. Being able to do this in an industry so dear to me is even better! I’ve worked on three continents and, being married to a KLM flight attendant, have traveled quite a bit with and without our family of six. We’re not the types to lay on the beach. We want to experience all that a destination has to offer. What greater purpose can I have in my work than to give the whole world access to unforgettable experiences?
There are three things that have stood out to me about the GetYourGuide culture since I joined in May 2019. The first is that I can bring my full self to the office!
Carrying my heart on my sleeve at previous employers hasn’t always been a great experience. Some companies don’t handle feedback well, or the directness that comes with being Dutch. Also, being vulnerable can be taken advantage of if you’re in the wrong environment. In companies filled with “office politics” I’ve experienced that personal merits can be claimed by others. Building up a broad network outside your direct contacts is sometimes even discouraged, out of fear that information flows beyond the formal reporting lines.
At GetYourGuide, it’s the opposite. The more vulnerable people are, the more cohesion is unlocked. During a training in managing mental well-being, I was amazed by how all the participants mirrored each other's openness. It helped us all get a realistic benchmark, rather than assuming everyone’s got everything figured out. I’ve seldom seen a group of people that can forge a bond of trust so quickly. Trust leads to free flow of information and ideas, which leads to richer backlogs, and faster innovation.
The second is the joy people bring to work.
I feel an enormous level of energy in people when they talk about the customer problem they’re solving. And when you love what you’re doing, it doesn’t feel like work. The enthusiasm is contagious! This also creates an environment where humor is welcomed (even my silly dad jokes on the chat channel during the company all-hands meetings) and colleagues from various nationalities enjoy hanging out with the working family outside office hours.
The third is the opportunity for personal growth.
Thanks to the atmosphere created by the previously mentioned points, there’s a powerful feedback culture. I’ve received more personal feedback here than in any other company. There are retrospectives on quarterly initiatives, postmortems for incidents, 360 degree feedback, EBI (even better ifs) and WWW (what went well) to evaluate ceremonies, mentorship programs, you name it. When you’re serious about spinning up the growth flywheel, you must be serious about learning.
My personal growth aspiration is to help talent reach their full potential by building a safe and empathetic environment where they can thrive and be their true selves. I strive to become a better leader by being even more empathetic, setting clear goals, and asking the right questions. What better place to pursue this than in a hyper growth company in the last unclaimed travel category?
Performance Marketing is in a very privileged position. We’re on top of the demand trends across the globe, invest intelligently to attract customers to our platform, and build out our owned channels like Organic Search and CRM.
Depending on the tactic, channel, and part of the funnel, we measure ourselves on how we lift brand awareness, consideration, conversion, or repeats. Our targets are immediately linked to the company goals, which is great for the team’s sense of accomplishment and impact.
Vulnerability and failing fast are at the core of growth marketing — you continuously find things that work and things that don’t. Either way, you learn something. The better you get at predicting success and speeding up your experimentation velocity, the faster you grow the bottom line.
At breakneck speed, things will break. The faster you know this, the better. That’s where a safe environment is key — to be able to share learnings without hesitation. This allows people to discover things outside their comfort zones, and find new opportunities for growth, with minimal hurdles.
Three years ago I joined because of the big hairy audacious goal to help GetYourGuide become the global leader in travel experiences. What made me stay is a feeling of belonging thanks to the strong culture that allows people to bring their full selves to work, grow and have a lot of fun while doing this. It gives me a sense of Ikigai. Getting paid to do what I love. Doing what I’m good at and getting better at it. Selling what the world now craves — unforgettable travel experiences.
Interested in a career at GetYourGuide? Check out our Careers Page.
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