Lonely Planet Layoffs Move Digital Ops Out Of Australia

Lonely Planet is making around 15 percent of its staff redundant, including relocating its online operations from Melbourne to London, in a bid to avoid its earnings getting walloped by international currency exchanges.

The travel guide publisher is shedding about 70 of its staff, which is made up by about 350 in Australia and 100 elsewhere. CEO Matt Goldberg tells The Age: ”Lonely Planet is facing a series of financial challenges from external forces beyond our control – a sluggish global economy, the troubled retail sector, a declining print market and, significantly, the effects of the strong Australian dollar.”

London-based BBC Worldwide bought three-quarters of Lonely Planet back in 2007 and, although the BBC’s regulator asked it to make no further acquisitions except in exceptional circumstances, it this February bought founders Tony and Maureen Wheeler out of the remaining 25 percent, in line with a “put” option that had been agreed in the 2007 terms.

“The vast majority of the remaining members of web team will now move to London and new roles will be created as a result of those not being able to make the huge personal switch to a new country,” Tnooz reports.

“An official says part of the reason to locate them to London is to bring the department closer to parent company BBC Worldwide following its purchase of the remaining shares.”

Lonely Planet has begun to find some traction with smartphone city guides, but BBCWW has been desperate to super-size LP’s digital business and has considered seeking out an online partnership with major portals, possibly involving equity.

Reining LP in to the BBCWW mothership could be a recognition that BBCWW itself could be the partner LP needs (BBC.com already last year launched a new Travel section using some LP content and data). Or it could be a temporary plan until something larger can take hold.