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)

  • Woodster says:

    Hi Raffles. Firstly, excellent site and wouldn’t change the design. I agree on occasional guest bloggers, great idea.

    A couple of areas of interest from me. Firstly, any way you could snag interviews or run an open forum with some of the people that run loyalty schemes? Maybe a bit pie in the sky! Also Avios for families: I started collecting for that dream holiday but despair of getting availability for my young family in premium cabins so am looking for ways to spend points wisely for that treat.

    • Andrew says:

      +1 for interviews – Raffles your profile these days surely should get you access to the CEO of the loyalty programs!

    • mark cam says:

      I’d love to see some posts on how to use Avios for families too.

  • James67 says:

    Thanks for another great year Rob. Happy new year to you and the HfP comnunity.

    I think it might be a good idea to have a weekly open forum post on a Friday whereby contributors can post brief details of any pertinent mes, points and travel news not covered in the week to date. This could serve dual purpose of ensuring we are less limely to miss something useful, and it could make life a little easier for you by highlighting stories for you that may be worthy of a more detailed analysis in posts the following week.

    • Ralph says:

      An ‘open forum’ post once a week is an excellent idea, I like it!

  • Nathan says:

    Also, although a lot of regular readers will know exactly how you’ve done something, I sometimes feel like I wouldn’t no how to do the same thing. So maybe you could go into a bit more detail for example, you’ve booked a really good biz class seat.. Could you say how you booked e.g used BA.com which brought up Cathay Pacific flights, booked using x number of points etc so that if that exact same route appeals other people could do the same.

    • Fenny says:

      I think this is a good suggestion. Those “old hands” who do complicated bookings via assorted other airlines, changing FF numbers between booking, lounge entrance and boarding, obviously know what they’re doing. Some reference posts that tell us eg how to book multi leg flights on different airlines to maximise TP and miles, would be handy.

    • Lady London says:

      There are other blogs, forums etc. that do this though. In particular, Flyertalk where there is a lot of very detailed information and yes it is quite searchable. Some are US-based, but the level you want is in there Nathan. And a few that are written by UK originating people that I come across sometimes too. Nathan happy to share if you pm me.

      • PJK says:

        Lady London this is the kind of info which I always struggle to find on FT – wading through so much (to me) irrelevant info means I lose the will to live before I find anything detailed or helpful sadly. Of course a pm to you would be great … but we are on HfP so can’t do that! Perhaps you could share it openly … that is the point of this site … but if not for some reason then I’d be happy for Raffles to give you my e-mail address, though I’m sure that’s not the best way to share the info with Nathan and all the other relative newbies who find FT unusable as it is just too populated with unintelligible acronyms.

  • Thomas says:

    Happy new year!!

    Great site, does not need changing at all!! ,go easy on the” lets win something today” posts is my only comment, It does not make me read more, because when I read it I am already on the site! And I do not think people will Google “lets win something today” to then find your site either!. what would be good is using YouTube for a weekly master class in using miles on BA, use of ITA matrix, Booking tier point runs etc. Most people are visual learners and would benefit from these classes! Great job Rob, keep it up in 2015!

    • Frenske says:

      Not necessarily, other bloggers/websites might post a link to the competition on this site. That said this is the only blogging site I follow. I gave up on flyertalk; too much trawling through posts.

    • Rob says:

      You’re going to hate January, because there are two monster competitions lined up! I like them, I also think it ‘validates’ the site when a major business offers me a competition prize.

      The smaller competitions (Air New Zealand, LoungeBuddy, anything under £500 of prize value) are now limited to one article. I didn’t even do a ‘here are the winners’ article for LoungeBuddy although the names are in the original article. If the prize is £500+ I push it a bit more to help the sponsor feel he is getting value.

  • Max says:

    It will be 12 months this week since I first viewed HfP. I have read your emails daily ever since. An excellent site that has really helped me collect airline miles. Whilst I have dabbled in Avios collection in the past, and funded a few decent rewards flights to Asia and across Europe as a result, with your help this year I have, with very little extra spending to my normal outlay, collected 302,000 Avios and 199,999 Virgin Flying miles. Terrific.

    This may be small fry to some, but there are just two of us and we only have so much vacation time in a year, so this is more than an adequate “haul”! This, together with the Amex BA companion vouchers, ensures we can fly long haul business for economy fares which makes a big difference to us. Next trip is Tokyo in J in 12 weeks. In addition we are planning our first BA First experience. for next year.

    So a big thank you Rob, you have set me on the right path and I appreciate it.

    In answer to your questions:

    Is it clear to a newcomer what the site is about and why they should keep on reading it?
    Yes, very much so. I was hooked in immediately.

    Are there too many menus at the top of the page? Too few? The layout is clear, easy to navigate, good search functions.

    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? The sidebars can be useful. I do not use social media (apart from accounts to help points collecting). but am of an age where too much facebook-this and Twitter-that is off-putting, so less social media is my preference!

    Should there be more ‘sticky’ information for newcomers? For me it was relatively easy to gather all the info I needed from the site- there are several useful post for newbies, especially the “university guides”.

    Does the mix of content – which veers from Tesco deals to airline deals to credit card sign-up offers – work for you? Overall yes. We will all have certain posts that are of little personal interest. For me the taxi and train posts are of no interest as I do not use them. But that’s to be expected. You can not please everyone all of the time.

    Is the mix of news versus ‘reference / background’ articles (eg ‘How to use Combine My Avios with Iberia’) right? Yes, I would say so.

    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!).
    It is good but not necessary and I would not bust a gut trying to find 3 stories daily just to achieve a target of three. Some days are slow news days, that is fine.

    • Thom says:

      This could be me writing Max’s comments – 100% endorsed: the site perfectly suits my extensive retirement Avios collecting and travelling, and I sit here with over 800,000 Avios all collected on credit cards and other non-BA wheezes, plus two companion vouchers. And we are off soon in business with Eva Air and Thai to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos all on Star Alliance Miles collected as a side show to Avios, all due to Raffles.

      Ever since Rob pointed us to the Marriott > Tesco Clubcard > BA Miles trick some 8 (?) years ago I have been an utter disciple and I owe him a huge debt. I wish him and his family a great 2015 and lots of fun doing what he does so well for all of us.

      • Worzel says:

        Max/Thom-I’m in agreement.

        Rob, thanks once again for HFP.

        Best Wishes for 2015.

        Worz.

  • Mr Bridge says:

    As an original HFP reader, i do think that perhaps HFP has gone away from its original mission statement, eg i don’t see where uber taxi fits in!

    • Rob says:

      It is relevant to the London-based readers – a very high % – and, frankly, the £10 referral credits help pay the bills!

    • Volker says:

      HfP has made luxury travel affordable for me. It was Raffles who made me aware of Uber, and when I stayed in a suite at the Waldorf Astoria in Berlin (for very little money…) I really enjoyed the ride from the airport to the hotel in an Uber Lux limo (again for very little money). I’m not interested in train travel, but I’d rather skip articles which are irrelevant to me than miss out on things I personally consider important. In other words, I wouldn’t want any changes to the choice/variety of topics on HfP.

  • erico1875 says:

    Thanks to HTP I have went from, on a good week collecting 100 Avios, to now setting a yearly target of around 350K+ Avios.
    The whole family have benefited. The wife and I are flying Qatar 787 business class Edi to Goi in April.
    My daughter and baby are touring Europe @ Easter. in July Disneyland Paris is planned. August the wife and daughter, Aer Lingus Dublin to NY and early 2016, using BA Amex 2 4 1 my sons honeymoon to probably Mexico and West Coast USA.
    I really love this site. Cant really think of anything to improve it.

  • Dave Stringer says:

    A little more for the once or twice a year vacationer who doesn’t get the business travel.

    For example, getting to Silver status in one trip (e.g. the current Dublin to USA offers).

    Using BA’s bucket and spade flights effectively (e.g. including car hire savings).

    On the whole, change little.