Airbnb unveils virtual travel experiences
New York (CNN Business)Airbnb is laying off about 25% of its workforce as the coronavirus pandemic upends the travel industry and threatens the company’s core business.
On Tuesday, the short-term rental startup said nearly 1,900 employees will be let go worldwide, out of 7,500.
“We are collectively living through the most harrowing crisis of our lifetime, and as it began to unfold, global travel came to a standstill,” Airbnb CEO and cofounder Brian Chesky said in a letter to employees.
He added that Airbnb’s business has been “hit hard” and revenue this year is expected to be less than half of what the company earned in 2019. The company has recently dabbled with virtual versions of its Airbnb Experiences, which feature hosts from more than 30 countries leading activities and range in price from $1 to $40. Experiences include online bike tours, meditating with a Japanese monk or taking a Moroccan cooking class.
Airbnb has also reportedly delayed plans for a Wall Street debut this year.
In the US, Airbnb said it will cover 12 months of health insurance for its employees through COBRA. In all other countries, it will cover health insurance costs through the end of this year.
Layoffs have swept across the economy as a result of the pandemic, and tech companies haven’t been spared, with cuts and furloughs at Lyft, Yelp, Eventbrite, and rumored layoffs coming at Uber.
“I have a deep feeling of love for all of you,” Chesky wrote in the letter. “I am truly sorry. Please know this is not your fault. The world will never stop seeking the qualities and talents that you brought to Airbnb.”
Airbnb has also grappled with appeasing frustrated customers with refunds, and supporting its hosts, many of whom are struggling to make mortgage payments and pay bills due to coronavirus-related cancellations.
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