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Inspirato's New Zealand adventure includes a helicopter ride over Milford Sound. Photo courtesy of Inspirato

Denver-Based Travel Company Laying Off Employees Due to Coronavirus

Citing the economic fallout from COVID-19, Inspirato instituted a large-scale workforce reduction this week.

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The economic fallout of the coronavirus has officially hit at least one Denver company.

Inspirato, a Denver-based luxury travel startup founded in 2011, instituted a significant round of layoffs on Thursday, citing coronavirus as the main impetus for the decision, according to current employees and internal emails. The company already notified the employees being laid off across multiple departments, emails indicate.

“We took this step because, like nearly every business in the world right now, Inspirato is experiencing significant challenges from the COVID-19 virus,” Inspirato CEO Brent Handler and President David Kallery wrote in an email sent to employees on Thursday. “These challenges are changing rapidly, have no clear timeline, are particularly acute for companies in the travel and hospitality space, and may intensify. After careful thought and analysis, and with much dismay, we concluded we needed to reduce the size of our employee base rapidly as part of our strategy for maintaining Inspirato’s long-term health.”

At the time of publication, Inspirato had not responded to 5280′s requests for comment and therefore did not confirm the total number of workers laid off. However, according to two current employees who asked to remain anonymous, approximately 100 employees were let go across multiple departments. The company, which employs nearly 600 people according to LinkedIn, also enacted a remote work policy, business travel limitations, and pay cuts for executives, internal emails show.

“We can promise you that we both will fight like hell to come through this even stronger,” Handler and Kallery wrote in their email.

Similar to a country club membership, Inspirato members pay initiation fees of $10,000, $20,000, and $35,000 (plus $3,500 in annual dues) to unlock access to the company’s destinations around the world. Members get discounted rates and other exclusive benefits when they book their vacations. As of 2018, the company boasted more than 17,000 members and more than 355 homes in 200-plus locations around the world.

Last year, Inspirato unveiled its subscription-based travel plan, through which passholders pay $2,500 or $5,000 per month to book unlimited free stays at Inspirato properties across the globe. 

The impact of coronavirus in the United States has been sudden and vast. Currently, Colorado has at least 72 cases of coronavirus, and on Tuesday Gov. Jared Polis declared a state of emergency. On Thursday, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock did the same in the Mile High City. The outbreak across the state has also led to the closures of schools and libraries, as well as the cancelations of some travel and many public events. 

The resulting economic downturn has been swift. Across the country, the stock market has suffered its worst days since 1987. And the travel industry has especially suffered due to the outbreak, with layoffs happening across the country at travel agencies and other businesses as clients booking travel have evaporated. 

Editor’s note, 3/18/20: A previous version of this article stated that the stock market had fallen to its lowest levels since 1987. This is incorrect. The article has been updated to reflect that the market has suffered its worst days since 1987. 5280 regrets the error.

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