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)

  • Singing Dwarf says:

    I think a series of ‘back to basics’ articles would be useful – e.g. how to find availability on x airline when booking using points from y scheme; an analysis of how soon prior to travel seats become available (or not); availability on different routes; best way to get from A to B using the different schemes (value per point); etc

    I agree with an earlier post – how does Uber et al fit with the mission statement? I appreciate these posts generate some revenue for you, but do they belong here?

    Generally though, keep up the good work!

    • RG says:

      +1

      I would definitely like a few more articles on redeeming these points we work so hard to save- what is the most effective redemption strategy, how long in advance are seats released on each airline- and one thing I would really like is perhaps forum style article on top 5/top 10 as voted for by users hotel properties so when I come to redeem my hilton free night voucher or my radisson points There is a poll I could see from your informed forum readers as to the nicest properties a particular chain has I should consider redeeming in. With hotels such as Hilton the month in which you redeem massively affects the number of points it costs – articles on this type of thing to maximize points would be great!

      Overall though love the site keep up the great work

  • Mikeact says:

    Hi ‘Raffles’! Great site..very informative.I think that all is well as it is.My only comment is Q & A’s. I’m sure you get many questions,me for one. It’s a bit difficult to know where to ask, when the main topic has dropped off the radar. I appreciate that there are,of course,other sites,but it would be good to be able to keep it altogether on here.
    And here’s to 2015 one and all.Thanks.

  • Martin says:

    Hi Raffles
    This site is absolutely brilliant and I cannot thank you enough for the excellent advice you have given – your recent tip on flights to Hawaii was just the latest one that managed to completely divert me from what I was supposed to be doing for a few hours. HFP has changed the way I travel, there’s no doubt.

    For me the best bits are the tips and advice and special deals. Like some above the giveaways and prizes aren’t really for me, but it would be churlish to suggest this isn’t a popular element when it so clearly is.

    One minor request from might be a few more follow-up stories. For example now that Into The Nights has finished are there any problems that you know of (I’ve not had my bonuses yet etc). This would complete the circle for me.

    On the whole though this site is outstanding – you’re a hero in our house.

  • Oli says:

    Hi Raffles, some good suggestions here already to what is already easily the best run points blog out there. A few things that might be nice:

    Re: sticky content, a two tiered sticky content section would be great, one with Avios University style permanent reference posts (I’m guessing that if these were expanded to a more comprehensive guide it would majorly boost your through traffic) and the other sticky section containing the best live deals. At the moment some posts/deals seem to get lost very quickly and often their success is dependent on reader feedback, so something like a top 5 live deals section and maybe reverse the comments section so newer posts appear first may all help with navigating to the most up to date info.

    • Rob says:

      I can reverse the comments order with a single click. I’m not entirely sure it would make sense when reading them because there is usually a train of thought which runs through them, with ideas developing as they go.

      I can break them into chunks of, say, 25 comments to ease navigation? There would then be a forwards and backwards button at the bottom of the comments.

      • Andrew says:

        No please don’t do this – as i’m often on a slow connection i like it that all comments load at once. I would be here forever constantly moving in 25 batches

  • Froggitt says:

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

    Never even noticed them

    • Froggitt says:

      Happy new year to Rob and all the HfP readers – great work, great site. Only wish I had found it earlier when I was weekly commuting abroad by air.

  • James says:

    Just a technical issue for mobile devices: when a comment is replied to a number of times the box becomes so narrow that there can be a single word per line, making it largely unreadable.

    • Rob says:

      Yes, I’ve noticed this. It is outside my control at the moment because I cannot edit the settings of the mobile ‘theme’. The way forward would be to pay for a ‘proper’ mobile theme in the same way I am moving to a ‘proper’ email service next week.

      • erico1875 says:

        Problem seems to resolve if phone is rotated to portrait view.

    • Richie says:

      I thought this was just my phone

      • James67 says:

        I have always been able to resolve this problem simpky by selecting ‘desktop’ view/site in the phone options. No idea uf it works on iphone or ipad but never fails on android.

  • Adam says:

    Could you not leave open some of the topics, they tend to get closed after a short while and anyone new joininh the site with questions cannot post on certain topics for replies etc. Other forums can leave topics running – just a thought.

    • Rob says:

      ‘Spam’ is the first answer. The more open posts, the more posts robots will put their dodgy adverts in! Secondly, who sees a comment you make on an old post? I see it, because I see all comments in time order rather than by post, but its unlikely anyone else would. You can always email me with specific queries.

      That said, one of the outcomes of this exercise last year is that I pushed out the ‘time out’ on comments from 2 weeks to 3 weeks. Happy to change it again if there is enthusiasm.

      • Matthew says:

        I like the extended time for comments, especially when relating to s specific promotion and seeing if points/miles have been awarded yet so I can check too! For example the recent Iberia Economist offer.

      • Polly says:

        Hi Rob, yes as one of the big users of your site, I think extending the comment option to 3 weeks would be a great idea. Also you did increase the number of comments when I suggested that last year. Any chance you could squeeze it up to 8 comments now. Know you said you would be short of space on the r side of page. But fab site, the old adage, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it! Keep up the good work, and especially keep up the Tesco earning options, a godsend to us who don’t have the work travel option to earn!

  • Kathy says:

    Great site! It’s helped me a lot maximise my avios.

    Where it tends to fall down, for me, is the focus on the luxury/business end of the market. I would never pay for a business class flight even at an ex-Eu sale price, I don’t earn/spend enough money to trigger a BA 2-4-1 voucher. I don’t get to travel regularly for work. So a lot of the posts just aren’t relevant for me.

    My interest in Avios collection is to save me money so I can travel more frequently or to allow me to travel in greater comfort for the same price as economy.

    • Rob says:

      I have tried to do more ‘fare sale’ pieces for economy travellers. Unfortunately, BA does make it easy to redeem for economy flights because of the surcharges. I am planning new Avios Redemption University pieces on SriLankan etc where you don’t pay the surcharges and economy redemptions are decent value.