Technology

Tripadvisor cuts 900 staff to reduce costs amid COVID-19 pandemic

Christian Fleetwood

Tripadvisor is taking the difficult step of reducing its total workforce by around a quarter, as it seeks to combat the threat of COVID-19.

In the most aggressive phase of cost reductions to-date at Tripadvisor, the company is set to eliminate the rolls of more than 600 employees across North America and nearly 300 employees internationally.

Headquartered in Needham, Massachusetts, the company had nearly 4,200 global employees at the end of 2019. However, Tripadvisor had already laid off some 200 employees in January amid a leadership shake-up unrelated to the challenges of COVID-19.

With 52 offices globally, Tripadvisor will permanently close its Boston and San Francisco offices to reduce its real estate footprint.

In addition, of those remaining employees, most are expected to move to four-day work weeks as well as a 20 per cent pay cut.

“These are the most difficult cost-saving decisions I have ever had to make,” TripAdvisor chief executive and co-founder Steve Kaufer told employees in a now-released letter.

“But I, and the executive leadership team, firmly believe they are necessary and proportionate to the reality we face as a business and as an industry.”

The changes at Tripadvisor will also affect management, with Kaufer advising the company’s flights, car and cruise teams will be grouped under the business-to-consumer team, led by chief experience and brand officer Lindsay Nelson.

Nelson will also take on the responsibility of deciding which of Tripadvisor’s brands will survive, with the SmarterTravel business unit to be discontinued.

Chief commercial officer Kanika Soni is also taking on additional responsibilities, including guiding a unified advertising sales team, and will head the merger of Tripadvisor’s business-to-business restaurants and accommodations teams.

Nelson and Soni have also been appointed as part of Tripadvisor’s executive officer contingent, with the two women and another three men named as executive officers.

In contrast to 2019, the executive contingent was made up of four men, according to Skift.

Cruise Critic, which runs as an independent business, will now come under the responsibility of chief financial officer Ernst Teunissen.

“This is a tough day on many levels, and the pandemic has been nothing short of surreal,” Kaufer told employees.

“With difficult decisions to make, the executive team and I firmly believe these actions appropriately balance our short-term financial needs with our long-term business objectives, but I know that reality offers little solace for those impacted by this news today.”

It comes after a first and second phase of cost reductions saw Kaufer decline a salary for the remainder of 2020, and the furlough of hundreds of employees, primarily at TheFork, in sales-related roles, among other measures.

To view Steve Kaufer’s letter to employees in full, click here.

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