One of Bay County's largest private employers is laying-off nearly 15% of it's workers in a reorganization move. Online travel site, BookIt.com, told eighty employees Thursday they were out of jobs. Some Panama City Beach officials are worried the move will have a negative impact on the community.
BookIt.com CEO Bud Finlaw says market conditions and the overall business climate forced him to fire eighty employees Friday. Finlaw is merging the customer service and sales team, making some of the staff positions unnecessary.
"The best thing for us to do is operate efficiently. The most important thing to our guests is and continues to be giving them the very best prices" said Finlaw Friday morning.
Book-it recently launched a new "phone-free-pricing" program, which allows customers to save money by booking the travel plans online themselves. That eliminates the need for some of BookIt's customer service representatives.
"It was a difficult decision to make, but we have done it and we're able to move forward from here", Finlaw added.
Panama City Beach city officials are worried the firings will have a bad impact on the local economy.
"It will impact the restaurants, the retail, the housing market; Eighty people, that's eighty families also, it's gonna be a bad chain reaction" said Panama City Beach City Councilwoman Josie Strange.
Strange said the city can't do much to help.
"I wish all those employees would win the lottery. I don't know what the city could do but if they won the lottery then they could buy their own BookIt.com" said Strange.
All of the effected workers reportedly received two weeks severance pay. Finlaw says he did salvage some positions by relocating the software development team to Orlando. He also says he hopes to begin re-hiring again by the end of the year.