Embattled vacation rental management company Vacasa announced Thursday layoffs to 13% of its workforce – about 800 people — as it seeks to reorganize operations following a first quarter that saw gross booking value plunge to $427 million, an 18% drop from the same quarter last year.

The job cuts, which include 40% of Vacasa’s corporate and central operations roles, come after the company laid off 5% of its workforce in February. It said at the time it was still facing substantial challenges.

In a call Thursday evening with analysts to share first quarter results, CEO Rob Greyber said the economic conditions that prompted February’s layoffs had not improved.

“The short-term rental industry continues to adjust to softening demand for domestic, non-urban vacation rentals, as well as increases in the supply of short-term rental units,” Greyber said, adding, “over the last several weeks, which are some of the key weeks for summer bookings, it has become clear that the bookings weakness we saw at the start of the year is likely to persist through the remainder of 2024.”

Greyber went on to say the company is “significantly reducing our central corporate footprint” and accelerating a reorganization effort to strengthen local teams.

“We believe that empowering our local teams will drive the strongest impact on the homeowner and guest experience, which in-turn, should result in better business outcomes,” Greyber said.

The first quarter numbers were driven by a 12% year-over-year decrease in nights sold combined with a 7% drop in gross booking value per night sold, the company said. This was the fourth consecutive quarter Vacasa experienced a drop in bookings. The company’s portfolio of homes slipped to about 41,000, down from around 42,000 at the start of the year.

The February layoff announcement — which included word that chief operating officer John Banczak was stepping down at the end of March — came amid news that Vacasa’s gross booking value and revenue were both down in the fourth quarter 19% year over year.

It’s unclear if any of Vacasa’s leadership team was impacted by the latest layoffs.

During Thursday’s call, Greyber said the company believes it “must embrace a more local business model and double down in the way we manage our portfolio of vacation homes at the market level.”

“Directing our resources to local teams and to the processes that bring the most value to our owners and guests will allow us to better support our focus on profitability and free cash flow,” Greyber said.

Brooke Pfautz, the founder and CEO at Vintory, a platform designed to help short-term rental managers recruit new homeowners, said Vacasa’s announcement was bad news for the sector.

“This is only hurts us as a whole,” he said in an email to PhocusWire. “We should want there to be successful companies in the space as it drives more capital and investment into the industry.”

Pfautz estimated Vacasa’s inventory was worth significantly more than the company’s enterprise value.

“There’s a huge opportunity for someone out there to buy Vacasa or take them private and sell off their inventory for a nice profit,” he said. “I’m sure the sharks are circling.”

Phocuswrightsenior researcher Madeline List said short-term rental management companies like Vacasa faced “significant operational challenges” when physically dispersed portfolios were paired with oversight that was decentralized or distant from the properties.

“Large property managers like Vacasa still enjoyed success during the pandemic boom when hotels were closed, felt unsafe or travelers were resistant to going abroad,” she said. “But that is not an indicator that the management code was cracked and these core business challenges were ever fully solved.”

Difficulties in maintaining consistent quality across large portfolios for both the properties themselves and the customer service experience remain, she said, adding she’s uncertain it can be done reliably until core service issues are resolved.

“A rising tide lifted all ships back in 2021,” she said, “but now that market circumstances have changed, there are steeper consequences for managers who scaled too close to the sun.”

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