Booking.com terminated 48 contractors in Amsterdam when their agreements expired, and Glenn Fogel, CEO of that unit and its parent Booking Holdings, told employees in an internal video Friday that additional layoffs were certainly possible.
There have been no announcements of layoffs, although the company is undoubtedly mulling its options as competitors and big travel companies virtually everywhere have furloughed or fired staff.
With bookings down 85 percent as of early April, compared to a year earlier, Booking Holdings confirmed Thursday that it applied for government assistance in the UK and the Netherlands. Fogel, who tested positive for coronavirus a couple of weeks ago, and is reportedly fully recovered, said at the time that the company hadn’t decided yet whether to apply for relief under the U.S. CARES Act.
In the UK under its relief program, Booking Holdings would be able to furlough employees for three months but they would receive 80 percent of their pay from the government. The Netherlands relief package would enable the company to keep employing working for three months at full salary paid by the government. During this period, a major restructuring would be barred.
Booking Holdings has pledged to massively reduce its travel advertising in 2020, and in a CNBC interview Thursday, Expedia Group chairman and senior executive Barry Diller said, “We won’t spend $1 billion in advertising probably this year.” He said Expedia spent around $5 billion in advertising in 2019.
He said the recovery post-coronavirus will not mimic either 9/11 or the 2008 financial crisis.
“As far as travel is concerned, while I’m absolutely optimistic that at some point, but I don’t think soon, I don’t think it’s until probably September, October, November, December, really get life back,” Diller said. “And in order to travel, you’ve got to have that. So, they’re totally different situations. This is not analogous. I don’t think it’s analogous to anything. Certainly not analogous to 9/11 and to the financial crisis in ’08.”
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