Tech

TripAdvisor slashes nearly a quarter of its staff as the coronavirus stalls travel

Key Points
  • TripAdvisor is reducing staff by 900 employees as the coronavirus pandemic hammers the travel industry. The company already laid off 200 employees earlier this year.
  • CEO Steve Kaufer previously announced he will forgo his salary for the rest of the year.
An airline pilot walks in front of a Tripadvisor store in Toronto Pearson airport. (Photo by Geovien So/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Geovien So | SOPA Images | LightRocket via Getty Images

TripAdvisor is reducing staff by 900 employees as the coronavirus pandemic hammers the travel industry. 

The measure affects about 25% of TripAdvisor's global workforce, including more than 600 employees in the U.S. and Canada whose roles are being eliminated. Outside of the U.S., CEO Stephen Kaufer said in a memo to employees, 300 workers "will be engaged in specific country-by-country notification and consultation processes to determine their future employment status."

Prior to the cuts, the company had about 4,200 employees, according to corporate filings.

TripAdvisor previously let go 200 employees, CNBC reported in January. Those cuts represented about 5% of TripAdvisor's workforce at the time and mostly affected its experiences division, which works on travel activity offerings.

In addition to the layoffs, TripAdvisor is furloughing an undisclosed numbers of employees and closing its San Francisco and downtown Boston offices, allowing remaining employees to work remotely or from the Needham, Mass. office, respectively.

TripAdvisor is also pausing 401K matching in the U.S. and asking salaried employees in most markets to work four days a week and take a 20% pay cut. Kaufer said the temporary reduction will save close to a hundred jobs. TripAdvisor is also closing open roles that aren't deemed an immediate, essential need.

Kaufer said at the end of March he will forgo his salary for the rest of the year. Kaufer made nearly $800,000 in base pay in 2018 plus incentive-based compensation that brought his pay close to $2 million, according to the company's most recently available financial statements.

Kaufer said the company has moved beyond its initial phase of the coronavirus response and is now in cost-cutting mode. It had already cut discretionary spending and furloughed hundreds of workers based on European subsidy programs. But Kaufer said the measures were not enough to sustain the company.

"We 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," he said in the memo to employees.

Before the pandemic, TripAdvisor faced headwinds from Google's entrance into the travel search market. Executives at TripAdvisor and Expedia pointed to lower visibility on Google to help explain their disappointing third-quarter earnings reports. 

--Seema Mody contributed to this report.

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