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TripAdvisor slashes 25% of its global workforce ahead of first post-COVID-19 earnings

The retrenchment illustrates a dismal trend among travel companies during the pandemic.

TripAdvisor slashes 25% of its global workforce ahead of first post-COVID-19 earnings
[Photo: Suganth/Unsplash]

As the travel industry, pummeled globally by the ongoing pandemic, braces for the impact of its first post-COVID-19 earnings reports, TripAdvisor announced it’s cutting a quarter of its workforce due to coronavirus revenue loss.

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The world’s largest travel platform is eliminating 600 positions in the United States and 300 positions internationally, in addition to furloughing “a number” of workers at TripAdvisor and its tourism agency Viator. The layoffs will result in the closure of two of the company’s 53 offices, in downtown Boston and San Francisco, and remaining employees of those offices will be given the option to work remotely or out of the company’s Needham, Massachusetts, headquarters.

Reached for comment, a TripAdvisor spokesperson referred Fast Company to a memo from cofounder and CEO Steve Kaufer, in which he told employees that he “had hoped cutting discretionary expenses and furloughs would be enough, but as the pandemic worsened, it became clear that the company needed to take additional cost saving measures.”

Kaufer is among a multitude of travel executives publicly forgoing salaries this year, although it’s worth noting that for most CEOs, the lion’s share of their pay arrives through other means, such as from bonuses or stocks options and awards. (According to TripAdvisor’s latest financial filings, Kaufer’s base salary in 2018 was $800,000, but incentive-based compensation more than doubled his income to nearly $2 million; in 2017, when Kaufer received a scheduled equity grant, he brought home nearly $48 million.) TripAdvisor’s remaining staffers will see a temporary salary reduction of 20% starting in June, the company said, and will transition to a four-day workweek.

The retrenchment crystallizes a dismal trend among travel companies during the pandemic, as countries under lockdown close borders, cancel flights, and enforce quarantines. Buzzy luggage startup Away let go 10% of its staff and furloughed another 50% earlier this month, and last month, Goldman Sachs downgraded travel group Expedia’s stock from “neutral” to “sell.”

The World Travel and Tourism Council recently said travel companies were losing roughly one million jobs per day, and warned of a “catastrophic domino effect” within the industry.

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