Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

My feedback on your feedback on HfP

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On New Years Day I ran an open forum where you could post suggestions for ways of improving Head for Points.  I am grateful to everyone who took the time to comment or send me an email, especially those people who said they liked everything just as it is.

I replied to some ideas in the comments to the original piece, but I wanted to respond to a few ideas here as well.

One comment that comes up on a regular basis is a request for a forum.  It isn’t going to happen, sorry.  There are a number of reasons, but primarily:

  • it would take a huge amount of admin time, even if I found volunteer moderators
  • the advertising revenue from forums is poor as readers tend to flick past them to get to the latest posts
  • it would take the focus away from the ‘comments’ area of HfP articles
  • Flyertalk already does a great job of covering British Airways issues

Very few sites have successfully managed to operate a forum whilst keeping the focus on the core content.

Here are some things that will change (and some which won’t):

A few people felt that the competitions took up ‘space’ that could be used for articles.   I do not fully agree with this, but I accept that the ‘last chance to enter’ articles are unnecessary for regular readers.  I will therefore try to run four articles on days when one of them is a ‘last chance to enter’.  By coincidence, today is one of those days.

Someone suggested the idea of a calendar.  I like this.  At present, closing dates for various offers are spread across the credit card pages, the ‘Hotel Offers‘ page and the ‘Avios Offers‘ page.  It would be good to bring all of this together.  I’m not sure what method would be easiest given the large number of people who do not visit the main site because they read via mobile, RSS or email.  I will experiment with a ‘Final Reminders’ post every two weeks, probably on a Saturday.

Someone suggested the idea of an ‘executive summary’ on the ‘Hotel Offers‘ pageThis is already up and running – you will see that I have added a paragraph with my suggestion of where you should focus your stays in the coming months.

Someone said that, when I review a hotel or airline, I should go into more detail as to what points I used and how I justified the valuation.  I fully agree and will aim to do this, starting with my Etihad trip to Abu Dhabi in two weeks.

Some people asked for more ‘beginners’ information.  My general view is that I don’t want to go any deeper than I already do with the ‘Beginners‘ page.  Anyone who has ever emailed me will know that I try to get back to everyone and I simply do not have the resources to deal with lot of questions from people who know absolutely nothing about frequent flyer or hotel loyalty schemes.  I would prefer HfP to be an intermediate stop for someone who already has some miles and points, has spent some time learning about the subject and now wants to really get to grips with it.

There were various requests re comments.  Some people want them kept open longer – my view, to be honest, is that there is little point commenting on a three-month old article as no-one will see it.  That is not why they are closed off, though – it is to reduce robot-generated spam.  Closing comments after 3 weeks means that literally 97% of HfP articles cannot be spammed.  Some people wanted more comments in the right-hand menu – I increased this last year, I may increase it again.  What I cannot do for technical reasons unfortunately is run a dedicated page of comments.

Someone suggested that I add the partner links to the mobile site.  This makes sense and I have added a small click-through Amazon link to each page of the mobile site.  I have not added eBay, BA, IHG or TopCashback – eBay is fairly small in terms of revenue and I’m not sure that many readers book BA flights or IHG hotels via mobile.

A couple of people were interested in ‘success stories’ of great redemptions.  I have thought about this before (as, if I’m honest, ‘holiday filler’ material!) and might do it.  Perhaps I could offer a £25 3V gift card to people willing to write 300 words on their best ever use of miles and points?  Keep an eye out for this one in 2015.

I have read every single suggestion to the original article, so if I haven’t mentioned your idea above then don’t worry, it is lodged in my subconscious and may emerge in one form or another in the future.

Comments (46)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • Trevor says:

    Sorry I never commented previously, but off the top of my head, couldn’t think of any improvements. some others have come up with good ideas though and I certainly agree with the new tweaks and denials. I do like the calendar idea, showing all final dates for all offers covered (and perhaps those not covered). Since I make a note of those I am interested in myself (and no doubt some others do), it would be good to provide and administer this view centrally. I see it as a monthly calendar that can be clicked through, with each day containing any offers due to expire, and the listings should be links to the articles if covered on HfP or native website of the offer if not. Maybe I’m missing something, but see no need for anything more complex than that, except maybe the ability for readers to submit expiry dates with a moderated inclusion. That way other more obscure offers could be shared by the many readers which don’t necessarily deserve an article of full direct coverage here – many pairs of eyes are better than 1. This would also help with the fact that while this site is primarily Avios-centric, we all have personal goal and earn/burn targets with varying programs, so less dramatic and non-local news that could be important to some other readers can still be shared in the background.

    • Rob says:

      You may be pushing the boundaries of WordPress here since I would want it integrated into the site. I need to have a dig around. A boring old article with a list of dates is where it will start off!

  • Charlie says:

    Perfect site as it is, the only thing missing is Raffles flying VA upper class from LHR! Try it this year with the 787?!

    • Rob says:

      I kid you not, yesterday I was looking at a couple of dates for Boston in VS UC. The issue is finding a window – I don’t like doing more than one long-haul every six weeks or so as it takes me away from the family and the diary is pretty busy until September.

      • Charlie says:

        Awesome, I Recommend you fly out in UC and return in PE to cover as many Virgin angles as possible!

  • Singing Dwarf says:

    On the issue of keeping comments open for longer – and I’m not one who advocates this actually – but those people who have already commented on the article would be notified of new comments on old articles, if they had ticked the “Notify me of new posts by email option” – which I am sure a lot of people do do.

    NB Do we have the ability to automatically set this to ‘true’ in our user profile somewhere?

    • Alan says:

      There is at present but it will be going with the new email system that it due to come in, Raffles mentioned it will hopefully return…

  • Rory says:

    Something else that I think would be really useful is an airline, hotels, cars partner chart or search function. It would be extremely useful if there was somewhere I could type in ‘British Airways’ or ‘Executive Club’ and see which other schemes I could transfer points into, or use points for redemptions. Is anyone aware of somewhere else this is being done? If not it could be a USP for HFP.

  • mister.c. says:

    Relatively new to HfP and to the serious redemption skills of many on here! Generally I have dabbled in a few of the hotel rewards programmes but not with a huge stash of points.

    The success stories will be very interesting, for me anyway. There will be a temptation for the largest, most amazing value redemptions to be conveyed. Which will be fine but a balance of stories would be better. So not just AVIOS or huge redemptions, or massive points redemptions, or certain airlines or certain parts of the world. Somebody spending a small amount of points might actually be more relevant for some folk. Or be more innovative.
    I find I learn all sorts weekly by visiting the site and that can only continue as folks share their views.

    • Rob says:

      This is part of the reason, to be honest, that I don’t discuss my own redemptions some of the time. My hotel redemption in Abu Dhabi in 2 weeks time, for example, was done via an Amex International Currency Card MR redemption as Jumeirah is not a partner with the UK MR scheme. Not many HFP readers have an ICC Amex.

  • Trevor says:

    Feedback on new email system: I like the slightly updated look and header of the emails – nice work. The advertising is also unobtrusive right at the end, so not an issue. however, there are some things missing at the end. Previously there was a direct link to comment, or direct link to visit comments, where now the only link takes you to the start of an article that you’ve just read, so could be improved. Also, there were previously links to related categories which are no longer there. To be honest I haven’t used these, but using tracking links could of course tell you if others do and therefore if they are worth keeping, which I don’t see could cause an issue.

    • Rob says:

      Thanks Trevor. Unfortunately, because these emails are no longer sent by WordPress, there is no way – at least none I know of! – of having a link directly to the comments as opposed to the top of the article.

      I don’t think many long term readers – who tend to be the email people – use Related Categories so that is not a major worry for me. It is handy on the main site as it encourages visitors from Google to stick around and read something else.

      • Trevor says:

        With regards to the “Comment” and “See All Comments” links, I can understand that WP might auto-generate these for you, but you just need to append the generic bookmarks “/#respond” and “/#comments” respectively to the end of the article URL to create these links. These can then also be tracked separately so you can see how much people use them. Personally, I very seldom used to click the article title (which I see is no longer even a hyperlink – perhaps this should be added) to open the sight, but always the “See all comments” link having already read the article already. If you are wanting to drive traffic via your emails, then you need to make access as quick and simple as possible, taking people to exactly where they want to be. Since you obviously already have the article URL and a generated tracking link (hidden only at the end of the email – this should change), it can’t be too much extra to append the two bookmarks and generate 2 more tracking URLs for inclusion at the end under the required “Comment” and “See All Comments” labels. Good luck, I hope you get it right, as I think in the current format you’ll be losing traffic as ease-of-use has been removed.

        • Rob says:

          That tracking link at the bottom is actually a plug-in which automatically adds the code to the RSS feed. Need to see how easy it is to get it to drop down to comments.

          In truth, the emails are a poisoned chalice for me because I am very limited in advertising opportunities. If I thought 100% of the readers would start using the desktop site instead if I scrapped them I would do it tomorrow! The same goes for the mobile site!

          • Trevor says:

            I’m aware of your wish to have less email viewers and more online viewers, which is also why I hope this will work for you – it makes it easier to drive traffic to the website. Otherwise it’s a more-or-less static email with no interaction opportunities. But as you’re well aware, you have a lot of old followers who eat your emails for brekkie, so reducing interaction or removing emails altogether wouldn’t be great. I know I’d have to set a reminder to open the website daily if I didn’t get the daily emails, otherwise I’d just become a sporadic reader.

            Generating tracking URLs automatically from an RSS feed will make it harder to achieve though. I understand why you’d like the tracking, but maybe just append the bookmarks to the end of the original URL with a simply javascript command for now. Either way I’d still add the tracking link to the article heading as before for quick access to the website from the top.

  • Andi Hawes says:

    Not sure if your still taking feedback Raffles but i thought of one, and its based on a question i asked yourself about how you earn miles. I see that you are now explaining how you pay for items on various trips. I thought it might be interesting to see other users strategy on how they are acquiring, planning to acquire points, flights, which classes, using which cards, accounts, etc??

    I’m currently bouncing all over the place from card to card and considering my own strategy as per points, vouchers various card providers offer, 2 for 1 vouchers, and if they are worth it, etc

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

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