Booking.com adjusted the Swan’s categorised location after noticing the pub was “assigned incorrectly to Salisbury”, according to communications seen by The Morning Advertiser.
Booking.com’s guidelines mean only properties within a maximum of 7km radius (as the crow flies) can be attached to a specific pinpoint or ‘geopoint’. It said this was to manage customer expectations and avoid misleading potential visitors.
The pub – which is located in Stoford, Wiltshire – was “realigned” because it is 8km from the pinpoint of Salisbury and so does not show up when the city is searched for on the website.
Room bookings have considerably dropped at the pub, which relies on accommodation for 50% of its turnover.
Operator Dan King told The Morning Advertiser: “Once you have a fair level of trade, you wouldn't expect it to drop off a cliff.
However, King pointed out that a neighbouring bed and breakfast, which the pub “virtually shares a car park with” was listed as being in Salisbury, giving it an “unfair business advantage” over his site.
King said the pub’s 19 rooms have always performed well in the past, even in the immediate aftermath of the Novichok poisoning incident in 2018, which left residents reeling.
“The business is facing an uncertain future,” he said of the site, which was making an £800,000 turnover.
Like-for-like revenue for rooms dropped by 38.2% for the last three months of 2019 on the previous year.
The next three months are projected to see a like-for-like drop of 59.9% in revenue, according to predictions Booking.com made for the site based on its recent sales.
These numbers led the operator to make five redundancies over Christmas.
King added: “If they had given me notice and said ‘in six months we're going to have to do this’, we would have had time to make business considerations and continuity plans but to just do it and not tell me is outrageous.”
In a message via its internal communications platform, the Booking.com apologised for not informing the pub of the change “out of courtesy” but said it “reserves the right to edit any information on becoming aware that it is incorrect”.
A spokesperson for the booking company said: “Our overarching aim at Booking.com is to provide our customers with transparent information that empowers them to find the stays and travel experiences that are just right for them, and this includes how we assign properties to a specific destination.
“Although we have not made any recent changes to our geolocation policies, if we are made aware of an inconsistency, we take steps to address it as part of our continuing efforts to set accurate expectations for our customers.”