We are a travel brand, and the coronavirus pandemic has brought travel to a standstill. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen sales of our products decrease by more than 90%. It is not only hard to do business during a global pandemic — for us, it is nearly impossible to continue our mission of transforming travel when travel has come to a halt.
As the crisis began to unfold last month, we took swift and aggressive steps to manage the impact on our business: We made the early decision to shutter our ten retail stores, while continuing to pay our retail teams during what we hoped would be short-term closures. We froze hiring. We suspended our own salaries, while our senior leadership team reduced theirs. We paused work on new initiatives and drastically reduced spend across every area of the business. Our goal was to keep as much of our team as possible employed during the crisis.
Over the last few weeks, however, it became apparent that there was no way to maintain the size of our team and stay solvent through this crisis. A month ago, we were making a healthy profit margin on every order. Today, the company’s salary costs alone exceed our revenues many times over. What once seemed like a healthy cash balance is no longer enough to keep the lights on without dramatic action.
Earlier today we announced that we were furloughing about half our team and laying off another 10%. This was a devastating decision and one we considered only as a last resort. The pride we once had in the creation of so many opportunities for people is now fear, frustration, and concern for a large number of people who didn’t deserve this outcome. Many of these are people we personally hired, and many more are friends.
We are immensely grateful for everything this group has brought to the company. We continue to feel a deep sense of responsibility for those who have joined our journey and are now being impacted by this decision.
Our team members affected by the layoff will receive a minimum of eight weeks of severance and we will cover the costs of healthcare coverage through the end of June. We’ve waived the vesting cliff on equity, and extended the exercise period of stock options so affected employees don’t have to make decisions surrounding their equity in the short term. We’re helping them navigate unemployment benefits to ensure continued assistance beyond their severance payments, covering the cost of career coaching, and with their permission, circulating their resumes to our networks. (For those companies currently hiring: please email email@example.com to receive this list.)
The majority of our furloughed employees belong to our Retail and Customer Experience teams who do the important work of interacting directly with our customers. With the aid of government assistance, they will continue to receive 100% of their wages and benefits until they can resume work full time, which we hope is as soon as possible.
As we’ve built Away over the past five years, one of the things we’ve been most proud of is the team and all that we’ve been able to create together. The growth of the business meant the growth of a group of passionate, talented, creative, and dedicated human beings who could take on new challenges and overcome new obstacles. The team has always mattered most, because they are what makes everything else possible. This is a shocking and heartbreaking moment for the entire company.
Away exists to create objects that make life easier for those on the move, and for now, the health and safety of the world hinges on all of us not moving. We continue to have a profound belief in the transformative power of travel, and are doing everything we can to be here for you when it resumes.
Steph and Jen