June 4, 2014 in Business

Ambassadors lays off 40 workers at West Plains office

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Student-travel company Ambassadors Group is laying off 40 workers at its West Plains headquarters as it tries to reduce costs and streamline operations.

The restructuring is the second this year for the Spokane company, following a smaller layoff of workers in February.

Interim CEO Philip Livingston on Wednesday said the reductions will affect departments “across the board,” cutting the company’s headcount to 170. Of those, 150 are in Spokane, Livingston said.

They include layoffs in the technology group, the contact center and marketing.

The company promotes and arranges group student travel overseas and within the United States. Those programs, directed at middle-school and high school students, are operated under the People to People Student Ambassadors Program name.

Since 2008 the number of families paying for those trips has declined, leading to efforts to reduce expenses and improve marketing efforts.

Its 2013 year end report showed total revenue of $51 million, down 13 percent from the year before.

In its recent first-quarter earnings report, Ambassadors officials said they plan to cut costs by as much as $4 million this year to protect profitability. The company reported a loss of $7.6 million in the first quarter as travel-program revenues fell by 46 percent compared to the first quarter of 2013.

The publicly traded company is also looking to sell its large headquarters office near the Spokane airport. Its original asking price for the 133,000-square-foot building on Flint Road was $13.3 million.

“We intend to stay in Spokane. That building is just too big for what we need,” Livingston said.

He was named interim CEO last month, replacing previous interim CEO Anthony Dombrowik.

The layoffs don’t signal a diminished effort to promote cultural and education travel programs, Livingston said.

“We are very bullish about the student travel market. More students are seeking the advantage of traveling and studying abroad,” he said.

He said the cuts are combined with added efficiencies made possible by technology within the company, allowing Ambassadors Group to grow and focus on customers.


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