Failed operator Villa Parade blamed rampant speculation on social media sites for its collapse last week following a dispute with rival rentals firm Travelopo.
Villa Parade’s Huddersfield-based parent Air Parade, which also traded as Luxury Villa Escapes, Car Parade and Golf Parade, ceased trading on May 14 with the loss of 10 jobs.
The failure followed a dispute over villa contracts in Majorca that saw Villa Parade obtain a court injunction against Travelopo after the latter emailed Villa Parade clients to suggest bookings were no longer valid. Villa Parade is understood to have lost contracts for 93 villas and was in the process of rebooking or refunding customers when it failed.
A company spokesman said speculation on sites such as TripAdvisor had a “snowball effect”, adding: “Comments posted on TripAdvisor fuelled rumours and speculation, worsening Villa Parade’s situation.”
Trade observers agreed online rumours could be devastating.
Former Holiday Hypermarkets boss John Donnelly, director of villa specialist Floridian Homes, said: “Social media can kill a business. This would not have happened 10 or 15 years ago.”
Trevor Davis, founder of business agency 3FOR, added: “Villa Parade was an established and well-liked business. Its demise may have been accelerated as a result of rumours spread via social media activity.”
The company had held an Atol since 2001 and sold accommodation-only and packages, mainly to Spain and Portugal. It had up to 70 customers abroad and about 400 Atol-protected bookings of flight packages, as well as 1,300 forward bookings for accommodation-only.
An Abta investigation into whether Villa Parade had contracts in place has been suspended following its failure.