Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Lonely Planet staff suffer job losses after BBC sale

Pakistan News & Features Services

The staffers at the Melbourne headquarters of iconic travel guide Lonely Planet are facing job cuts and redeployments, affecting all editorial roles, as part of a massive global overhaul of the company’s operations four months after it was sold by BBC Worldwide. 

The Australian redundancies include editors, writers and cartographers and some casual staff also reportedly lost their jobs, according to reports from News Ltd. Redundancies and restructuring are also expected at offices in London, Nashville and Oakland. 

Lonely Planet was founded in Melbourne in 1972 by Maureen and Tony Wheeler, and grew to be the go-to guidebook for travellers the world over. The company has printed more than 120 million books in 11 languages since starting out as a single shoestring guide to Asia. 

The staff was informed at the Footscray offices that the company, owned by Nashville-based NC2 Media, would be undergoing changes amid media reports of more than 100 redundancies. It was reported that the mood in the office was gloomy and many staffers left the building in tears. 

The Chief Operating Officer of Lonely Planet, Daniel Houghton, was quoted to have said that his company’s travel guidebooks would continue to be of significant importance” to the business, their focus would now be on digital efforts and building a new content model. 

In a publicly released statement the company said: “Unfortunately, as a result of these changes, a number of positions at our offices around the world have the potential to be affected and we are in consultation with individuals whose roles may be impacted. These changes will enable Lonely Planet to be well positioned for ongoing success and investing in the future in line with our 40-year heritage.” 

The company has been a global powerhouse in the travel guide industry, but during recent years has faced numerous challenges and controversies. In March this year BBC Worldwide sold Lonely Planet to NC2 Media, the majority-owned by US billionaire Brad Kelly, at a reported loss of over $100 million. At the time of the sale, the Guardian reported the Melbourne office was incurring around 60% of the company’s costs.

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