Avios Big Reward – did Head for Points persuade Avios to improve the prize?

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Back in May, I wrote this post about ‘The Avios Big Reward’ competition.

I said, frankly, that it stank.

Avios was encouraging people to send in tear-jerking videos, often about how someone they know has coped bravely in the face of terrible adversity.  These videos would be shared by Avios on social media AND on TV – and Avios took the copyright for two years.

And what was the prize?  Two economy tickets to New York.

Of course it stank.  There was even a high chance that the winner would be someone with a disability who would not even be able to fly comfortably in economy.

You didn’t even get your hotel paid for – and New York hotels can be hugely expensive as we all know.  That would be unfortunate for any winner who got the prize because they had thrived despite being hard up.

Google jumps in to help!

You might argue that – since the average article on this site is only read by 3,000 people (assuming only half the email subscribers open each email) – I have no impact in the market.  You could be right, although you would be surprised how many people I talk to in the industry who admit to being amongst those 3,000.

However, Google likes Head for Points.  Many articles I write rank well.

My article criticising ‘The Avios Big Reward’ actually ranked ABOVE the official website for the promotion for a time.  It still comes in at fourth position, directly below the three official Avios pages.  And the headline for that article was ““The Avios Big Reward” is unveiled – and it’s rubbish”.  Everyone who searched for ‘Avios Big Reward’ on Google saw it.

The prize is awarded

Last night I saw the TV commercial where the prize was awarded.  It is embedded below – this is actually the full-length three minute version that ran on Friday although I think there is a shorter version now running.

Fast forward to 2 minutes and 25 seconds:


(if the video does not play, click here instead to visit YouTube directly.)

The winner is actually given two Club World tickets to New York, instead of the two economy tickets that were mentioned in all of the promotional material for the competition.

I’m not saying that Head for Points was responsible for Avios seeing the light and improving the prize.  The Google position of my original article and the existence of senior figures at Avios Group on the HFP feeds may have counted for something though.  Some HFP readers also tweeted Avios about it.

Whatever the reason, I’m pleased they did it.

They could still have thrown in a hotel as well ……!

(PS.  It is also worth noting that the TV ad talks of collecting exactly 1 million Avios.  The original prize pot as advertised was 43 pairs of 9,000 Avios tickets, 5 pairs of 15,000 Avios tickets and one pair of World Traveller flights to New York.  That is a total of 1,004,000 Avios.  By giving the winner Club World tickets, the total went up to 1,084,000 Avios.  This implies that the decision to give the winner Club World tickets was taken late in the process.)

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  1. What if they used their BA Amex 241 voucher (it unsubtley was placed on screen for a second or two) on the NYC flights. That would bring them back in line with your points calculation. – They probably got that tip from HFP as well, although they didn’t go the whole hog and book Aer Lingus to Boston instead.

    I saw this video yesterday and I noticed the Club World tickets being mentioned as well. “Didn’t HFP say that all the prizes were economy?”

    Now it’s time to work out what else you want to lobby for. Some search engine optimisation and boom!

    P.S. isn’t the BA Amex only associated with BAEC not Avios? Strange to see that and not a Lloyd’s or TSB card.

    • ankomonkey says:

      Good point on BA Amex being shown and not Lloyds TSB.

      “Now it’s time to work out what else you want to lobby for.” Time to submit suggestions:

      1. Tesco Clubcard to Avios 50% conversion bonus

      2. Tesco Clubcard to VSFC 50% conversion bonus

      3. Hilton HHonors reversion back to pre-devaluation levels

      4. Drastically improved BAEC long-haul premium redemption availability

      5. Complimentary BAEC/VSFC Gold level membership to HfP readers…

      • Simmo says:

        Tesco Clubcard to Virgin is currently at 20% bonus.

        Not quite the same, but every little helps.

      • Just 4, please. I’m happy with the tesco conversion rate and avios pricing, I just want to be able to actually spend the things!

      • James says:

        Countdown to ‘HfP premium’ membership with ffp and hotel chain status included 😉

  2. callum says:

    When do they say “exactly” a million avios? The one you’ve linked to, and one I saw on TV last night, clearly says over a million, with the onscreen counter clearly being well over a million.

  3. Even with the club world tickets it’s still rubbish! They even got Chris to hand them the tickets and say ‘we’ve even paid the taxes for you’ – well I should bloody hope so too!!

    What is 1 million Avios actually worth to them anyway? £3000 to £4000? Plus the taxes, maybe a £7000 prize pot? Considering they get to use the videos for 2 years, I think Avios are the winners here.

    • callum says:

      I think you’ll find the average person would find Club World tickets to New York to be an amazing gift… Just because it’s no big deal to you, doesn’t mean it isn’t to everyone else…

      I’d imagine 1 million avios is worth rather more than £3000 to them. And they actually earnt the avios instead of just granting them to themselves, and then donated all the stuff they bought to charities. It has cost them a hell of a lot more than £10,000. No need to be so miserable about it…

      • Calm down! I just think they could have made the prize a bit more special considering the competition was about rewarding someone who has done something exceptional. A holiday for the family with flights, hotel and spending money included would have been a bit more suitable. Rather than giving someone a flight and then leaving it up to them to sort the rest.

        There are tons of competitions all over the internet offering this type of package (see 3 below I found in a few mins) and considering Avios specialise in travel & have links with airlines, hotels and a car rental agencies, I am sure they could have sorted out something similar.

        2 return flights to Australia, 7 nights accommodation with meals included and car hire for 7 days and $1000 spending money:

        Family holiday to Antigua:


        • callum says:

          Did any of those competitions also donate thousands upon thousands of pounds (over a hundred thousand by the look of it) to charity? I don’t think so.

          I’m well aware that the competition wasn’t exactly the best thing since sliced bread, but the way people are going on about how awful it was is, in my opinion, bordering on pathetic. They are free flights – as I said before, just because it doesn’t mean much to you and the wealthy like Raffles, doesn’t mean that it’s trivial to everyone else. It blatantly isn’t. Just look at the number of people applying to it even before the Club World flights were announced.

          And I’m perfectly calm thank you very much. Just because I wish to provide context to your opinions, doesn’t mean they gave me an embolism!

          • Edd M says:

            I think you’re being a bit over-generous Callum. Considering that a TV commercial on prime-time TV would cost ten thousands of pounds in airtime alone (and that’s not counting the ‘creative costs’ of employing a super-expensive advertising agency to make the thing), I think it’s hardly unreasonable to ask Avios to stump up the £1000 for a week’s stay in an averagey New York hotel.

            People don’t read T&Cs. They just see ‘trip to New York’. I think it’s a pretty disgusting con to be honest: imagine being a carer or someone on minimum wage, winning that prize, and then realising that with your meagre living allowance you’ve got to somehow pay for a week’s accommodation and subsistence in a wildly expensive city. Rather than being the prize of a lifetime it becomes an albatross around your neck.

            Yes, I understand that ‘business class’ flights are a luxury none of us should take for granted but this competition is downright mean spirited.

          • callum says:

            At no point did I say it would be unreasonable for Avios to include a hotel stay, they’re a big company – they clearly could have done so. What I am criticising is the ridiculous hyperbole that people are using – including you. The competition isn’t remotely “downright mean spirited”, get a grip. The people who won it clearly aren’t “carers on a meagre living allowance” so your hypothetical is utterly irrelevant. And what’s to say they didn’t include a hotel or spending money anyway? They didn’t announce it, but they also didn’t make much fuss about the tens of thousands of pounds of stuff they donated to charity – most people here didn’t even notice it. Not that a hotel is New York is as expensive as you claim it is – if they’re as destitute as you seem to think they would presumably be happy enough to stay in a youth hostel for £15 or so a night.

            As to people whinging that they spent more on adverts than prizes – so what? Do you honestly believe Tesco donate more to Race for Life than they spend telling everyone how supportive they are of it? It’s how companies work in the real world…

          • I honestly don’t understand why they bought all that stuff. Assuming all Tesco on a BA PP Amex they spent £25000.

            Note that this £25k is worth more than all the prizes combined. And the TV slots are costing six figures.

            You spend £100k on ads to show yourself donating £25k of goods to charity to generate £10k of flight prizes….

          • callum says:

            A rather bizarre statement to make. You’re moaning about how they aren’t generous enough, then say you don’t understand why they would donate food to help families living in poverty?

            Not as glamorous as giving someone a luxury holiday, but something I’d argue is FAR more worthwhile…

  4. Pavel says:

    Perhaps you could also influence Avios to modify their Lloyds upgrade voucher so that it applies to flights booked on ba.com as well? Currently it only applies on bookings made on avios.com, which makes it pretty useless for long haul flights. As we know long haul redemptions on avios.com are usually more expensive than on ba.com, e.g. BA return to Chengdu on ba.com for October is £609, whereas on avios.com it is £628 + 15000 avios points, so to use the voucher you not only have to pay more, but also lose your Avios points (you could redeem 50000 avios and pay only £350ish taxes, but how does that make a good deal if you can pay £609 cash for the same ticket?). All that stems from a well know fact that long haul redemptions on BA only make sense in business class, but what do you need your upgrade voucher for then?

    • callum says:

      You’ve got as much chance of using it on BA.com as you have at redeeming it with Iberia. They’re owned by the same company but they’re completely separate.

      It’s 50,000 avios + £376 on both Avios.com and BA.com. I’m not quite sure why you’re comparing points+cash redemptions (presumably where your £628 figure comes from?). Long haul redemptions are generally poor value yes (though they are flexible whereas the tickets you compare them to are not) but you seem like you knew that before you began – so what exactly are you complaining about? You want to use the upgrade voucher on a cash booking?

  5. guesswho2000 says:

    OT, but I’ve just had an email from VS about Tesco Clubcard – another txfer bonus, only 20% this time, and 1,000 miles for auto opt-in. Says you don’t get the auto opt-in bonus if you’ve had it before, but it said that about the milesfinder toolbar bonus ;o).

    Still no Avios/BAEC bonus though, which is a shame, as I’m sitting on a heap of VS miles but have recently used a lot of Avios for domestic QF flights…

  6. Lady London says:

    I didn’t see your original post, but got the offer and thought it stank too. The rights thing is really quite nasty given the use that Avios can make of it, and the fact that after 2 years, practically speaking the rights will be pretty hard to protect for any entity and impossible for someone who can’t afford rafts of lawyers and court costs.

    • callum says:

      “Nasty”!? It’s a short video of you describing why someone deserves a prize, then a short video of said person receiving the prize.

      What exactly do you propose Avios are going to do with it? And why on Earth would anyone want the rights to those videos back, let alone fight for it through the courts… I can’t tell if people on this site are merely over-privileged or just generally ungrateful!

  7. Charlie says:

    I can never understand companies that obviously spend a lot on having some jumped up PR agency dream up a Grand Prize campaign, then spend a fortune on advertising, when the actual prize is minimal. That was the case here. Glad someone at Avios saw sense at the last minute and happy for the winner. Either it is a trip of a lifetime or just a point saver! Now what is needed is a savvy NY hotel to jump in with a loud boom and donate a weeks stay. Great publicity for next to no cost – you don’t even need to run a competition!

    On another note, Tesco Clubcard to Avios conversion bonus is what I am waiting for.

  8. I think you an say HFP contributed. Prizes stink when they are tied into conditions* and cost the winner** to take them up. *no school holidays **paying for a hotel
    It was close to a Room 101 recommendation!

  9. Peter says:

    Completely off topic for a minute here. I’m planning to cancel my Amex Platinum and wondered how they refund the annual fee rebate. I’ve not got a direct debit set up and was thinking I’d need to repay what I owe before I send in the refund letter.

    Oh and hi to Callum. Not sure if you are trolling or have not been to NY. I went to America last year to NY for the first time and I’m definitely not rich. Even the cheaper hotels don’t include breakfast in what you pay and when we looked at dropping below about £80 a night you were either WAY out of the town centre or had to share a bathroom with other people! Neither option appealed to my wife and I to enjoy the holiday.

    Club flights may be great (I’ve never been able to afford so don’t know) but hardly make a great holiday!

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