The Swan at Stoford has shut, with its operator blaming “market manipulation” from reservations website Booking.com with revenues plunging soon after its location listing was changed.
Publican Dan King previously said his level of trade had “dropped off a cliff” when Booking.com made a change that meant the pub was no longer visible when ‘Salisbury’ was searched for on its website.
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 Swan was “realigned” because it is 8km from the pinpoint of Salisbury and only came up as an option when ‘Stapleford’ was searched for.
The pub’s team announced it was closing after seven years of trading – resulting in the loss of 10 jobs – in a Facebook post.
The post said: “We would like to thank all the customers, friends and staff who have supported us.
“This policy resulted in 60% decline in accommodation sales with associated food and drink sales affected, with rising rates, utilities and other cost it has made the business unviable.
“This is an example of market manipulation by a market leader using tech policies to get the desired result to benefit selected partners, the consequence of this has resulted in 10 redundancies, closure of a family business and home and the loss of an iconic pub.”
Regulars left messages of support and sadness on the pub’s Facebook page, with one saying the pub “has been part of my life in so many ways,” and another calling the news “tragic”.
A spokesman for Ei Publican Partnerships said: “We can confirm that the Swan at Stoford is currently closed and we are in discussions with the operators regarding the future of this site.”
Booking.com did not respond when contacted for comment, but previously said it addressed a geopoint inconsistency as part of its “continuing efforts to set accurate expectations for our customers”.
Here is the pub's Facebook post in full: