There are plenty of startups in the vacation space that are getting hammered by the global travel shutdown. 

There's no playbook for how to navigate a crisis like this one, and it's all but certain that companines will make missteps - but Sonder ($PRIVATE:SONDER) is getting an earful on social media from users making complaints about refunds. At the same time, it's seeing spiking engagement. 

Sonder's Facebook ($FB) Talking About Count is soaring. But that's not necessarily a good thing, as lots of users have taken to the social media platform to voice complaints pertaining to refunds, something that just about every consumer on earth is dealing with thanks to the pandemic. 

Could it be all bad? Facebook Likes (not shown) have risen at a dramatic pace for Sonder, as the company partnered with delivery startup Postmates and provided free room and board to medical workers, but the overwhelming majority of recent comments at its Facebook site don't reflect happy users. 

Sonder reportedly laid off hunderds of staffers, and it's already showing up in the company's LinkedIn ($MSFT) headcount, shown above. It was once growing at a pace competitors couldn't match, but the recent report in The Information about the company's deep cuts to headcount now call that strategy into question. 

It's a common theme in the travel space, from luggage startups to airlines to Sonder's competitors. Companies that depend on consumer travel will face several quarters of hardship, and those that are inadequately capitalized face almost certain failure, especially if they're startups. Navigating the crisis remains one challenge - but maintaining credibility before consumers is a long-term issue that could chip away at startups' reputation if they cannot adequately manage communications with existing users. 

About the Data:

Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online - jobs, social and web traffic, product sales and app ratings - and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales. 

Further Reading: 

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