Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

Open forum day …. any suggestions for tweaking the site?

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On January 1st last year I ran an ‘open forum’ where I opened up the comments to ideas on tweaking the site.  It worked well so I thought I would try it again.

I have continued to change various elements of the site here and there throughout 2014, although many were small changes which on their own don’t really get noticed.  I also added an Instagram site and there is a big overhaul of the daily emails ready to go which will be launched in the next couple of days.

In terms of content, it is now proving a lot easier to get companies to donate competition prizes to the site.  If you like what I have given away in 2014, you will be very impressed by what I have to offer during January!  There will be a big announcement on Saturday to kick off the year in style.

However, I am fully aware that there is an element of ‘snow blindness’ in what I do. After all, I look at the site every day for a considerable period of time, and I can only second-guess how you, the readers, respond to the different elements.

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As we start a new year, I’d like to open up the floor to any suggestions you have about the site. Remember that I need to cater for two audiences at the same time – the regular readers and the hundreds of people who come here via Google each day and who I want to convert into regular readers.

Is it clear to a newcomer what the site is about and why they should keep on reading it?

Are there too many menus at the top of the page? Too few?

Are there too many ads? (Probably not, most blogs would run ads inside posts as well, which I don’t)

Are the sidebars too confusing? Should I push the social media links more?

Should there be more ‘sticky’ information for newcomers?

Does the mix of content – which veers from Tesco deals to airline deals to credit card sign-up offers – work for you?

Is the mix of news versus ‘reference / background’ articles (eg ‘How to use Combine My Avios with Iberia’) right?

Does the current format of running a fixed number of stories at fixed times every day – with a ‘lead’ story and two less important ones below – work for you? (Most blogs just post at random times throughout the day, but I am middle-aged and grew up with the newspaper tradition!)

If there is anything about the way the site currently looks that annoys or confuses you, or if you have any ideas for improvements, please post below. You can also email me at raffles [at] headforpoints.co.uk if you’d prefer.

Anything from your dislike of how I punctuate the headlines in the sidebars through to ideas for new ‘sticky’ pages are welcome – no idea is too small!  And, to be honest, small changes are easier to implement than large changes ….

Thank you, and a Happy New Year for 2015.

Comments (218)

  • Hingeless says:

    Hi

    Great site, I have given up on flyertalk.

    Maybe some more contributions from guest bloggers?

  • Nick says:

    Love the site. As someone on lower income (and self-employed) I can’t hope to take advantage of many of the offers regarding credit cards, first/business class flights or high-end hotels but many of your posts have been massively beneficial (Shangri-La free points, IHG’s Into The Nights and maximising Avios point collection, for example). Anything that helps introduce a little luxury into what would ordinarily be budget travel for me is greatly appreciated, so thank you again Raffles. Happy New Year!

  • Tracy says:

    I hope you are inviting positive feedback! I think the site is great and thanks to the 3 posts per day format I have collected lots of points I would have missed otherwise. I am in the Sofitel at the moment and I have had complimentary wine, chocolate and breakfast. Then we are flying business class to the Caribbean; something I would never have been able to do without your advice. My opinion is keep doing what you are doing. I look forward to your posts every morning. Thank you.

  • Neil says:

    I often view my mobile , before getting up for the day so the morning posts actually increase the likelihood of my reading regularly, if they were spread out I would certainly miss some. One note is that there are no advertising links say for Amazon on the mobile site, missed revenue stream?

    • Rob says:

      The current mobile ‘theme’ is free and inflexible. A more flexible one would not be cost effective in my view. Let’s see how the change to the new email system goes – again, I am swapping a free service for a £400 / year service which I hope to recoup from affiliate sales and ads. If it works I might try something similar on mobile (which is 25% of total page views now).

      • Hingeless says:

        I’m surprised it’s only 25%, I work for a global news site and the trend for mobile is a lot higher, I guess you get lots of people reading it at work!!

        • Fenny says:

          Or a lot of people who would rather not read something “meaty” on a mobile site. I really CBA to read a 5″ screen when I have a decent sized laptop that’s infinitely easier to see and type on.

  • Serrano55 says:

    Great site, really love it. I’m sure it saved me over couple of thousands over last 2 years

    However, I think there has been an increased frequency of raffle-type award posts, which is kind of a little frustrating. Rather than entering into lottery with 2000 other people for a hotel night, I’d rather read some insightful posts. Dont have to be about a marketing campaign, the recent article on BA cost cutting vs Middle Eastern airlines was a great read and would like to see a lot more of those

    Appreciate ad revenues are significant (or only) revenue stream but really need to find the right balance for these raffles. I don’t even mention the recent twitter-posting lottery thing…

    • Rob says:

      I don’t make a penny off the competitions. There is no admin fee charged to the sponsor. I am probably losing out on revenue, as I’m sure LoungeBuddy, for eg, would have paid for some advertising if I hadn’t done the competition. I like them, readers seem to like them and what I have on offer in January will impress you!

  • Nick Merry says:

    I dip into the site for reference when I am using an unfamiliar airline or hotel etc. An “expired” logo on promotions would be a great help for focusing on what’s currently available.

    For exemple I’m currently at a Sofitel and managed to bag extra points by referring to the site, but I had to refer to half a dozen “Accor” posts before I could find the valid ones.

    • Rob says:

      The ‘Hotel Promos’ tab in the menu bar is meant to do this. The problem with the menu bars is that if you read the site via mobile or email you probably don’t know they exist. The new email format rolling out will have links to the ‘reference pages’.

    • Lady London says:

      Nick I guess you know about loyaltylobby dot com which focuses close to solely on hotels? John who runs it seems to have the chains nicely organised and skimmable.although his interests span wider than the UK.

  • Nathan says:

    I usually have lots of questions and at the moment we post in the comments or I mail you directly, sometimes I might read an old article and have a question but no one will read those comments weeks later so maybe have a forum style area for questions etc?

    • Tony says:

      This!

      • Alan says:

        Agree

        • mark2 says:

          +1

          • Andrew says:

            I have thought this for some time. A UK based forum would be fantastic. It doesn’t have to be large, but sometimes it would be good to have a discussion over several days/weeks based on Raffles topics here.

            I find the comments section so useful i often check back late at night to read what has been written.

          • Colin JE says:

            Me too. A forum would be great, or keep the comments sections on articles open for much longer.

    • Stu R says:

      Yep, a forum would be a super idea!

    • TimS says:

      As Rob has said previously, forums don’t really “work” from revenue p.o.v. due to lack of advertising opportunities.

      They also detract from the blog format of the site.

      While I agree that from a reader’s p.o.v. it would be beneficial, it potentially reduces Raffles’ revenue generation and changes the format of the site away from the core purpose.

      • Mr Bridge says:

        I agree, but… the odd open post with a specific topic, and a short closing time for comments may work!

    • Lady London says:

      I’m not sure a forum would be such a good idea.

      Hard to keep forums focused nationally, and I’m really not sure how the costs and possible dilution of direction would work out for Rob.

      Right now I think Rob is doing a fantastic balancing act of all the various interests and themes. I particularly enjoyed his kicking of BA vs the Mid-East carriers. Even though I’m sure know he loves them really, and is probably aware that the level of BA’s offering is set strategically and is not just accidentally below that of the Mid-East and Asian carriers).

  • Davep says:

    Happy New Year to you too, Raffles. Thanks for your excellent site, which has provided many opportunities to gain those precious Avios and other collectables throughout 2014. The site works well for my needs. Keep up the great work in 2015 and beyond!