Bits: 2400 Avios with £50 of toys, Etihad dropping Edinburgh?, massive Nectar shake up

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News in brief:

2,400 Avios or 2,500 Virgin miles with £50 of toys

Tesco Direct has brought back another generous bonus promotion on toys.   Specifically, on Play-Doh, My Little Pony, Nerf and Hasbro board games.

Until 8th April you will get:

  • 500 extra Clubcard points (1,200 Avios or 1,250 Virgin miles) when you spend £25
  • 1,000 extra Clubcard points (2,400 Avios or 2,500 Virgin miles) when you spend £50

Full details are on Shopper Points here.  There is also a 25% discount on selected board games which doubles up with this offer.

Etihad dropping services from Edinburgh

Etihad dropping services from Edinburgh?

The Scotsman has reported that Etihad is planning to drop services from Edinburgh from October.

The service is believed to have been performing poorly.  Pressure from Qatar Airways, which is upgrading their Edinburgh route to an A350 from October, and from the upcoming Hainan Airlines Beijing service is also believed to have contributed.  The report has yet to be confirmed by Etihad and at present flights can still be booked for November onwards.

Massive Nectar shake-up being trialled

With Anika in a Business Premier seat on her way to Amsterdam for the inaugural Eurostar service, I put my Shopper Points hat on yesterday and headed over to the Sainsbury’s head office on Holborn to hear about their plans for Nectar.

Regular HFP readers will remember that Sainsbury’s bought the business from Aimia back in February.

A trial is launching on the Isle of Wight today.  The plan is very radical – no more base points (no more ‘1 point per £1’) but a massive push into giving bonus points on specific products.  This will be fully tailored via a new Nectar app.  The full article is on Shopper Points here.

What is relevant for HFP readers – in the context of airline loyalty – is why Sainsbury’s is making these changes.

Whilst there was obviously an element of PR in how it was presented to us, the bottom line is that Sainsbury’s wants to reward EVERYONE who actively chooses them.

They don’t just care how much you spend.  Someone who spends all of their £30 weekly food budget at Sainsbury’s should be treated better than someone who spends 30% of a £200 budget.  Algorithms will now rank you based on how long you have been a Sainsbury’s shopper, how often you visit them, how much you spend and (presumably by comparing your basket to a typical ‘full shop’) how much of your weekly spend you are giving them.  The higher you score, the better deals you will get.

Compare this to what we are likely to see from British Airways Executive Club, and have already seen this year from Miles & More and Flying Blue.  Increased rewards for big spenders (even though it is their employer who is paying, and the employer may have a BA route deal which locks in the passenger) and decreased rewards for low spenders, even though leisure travellers and SME owners have a genuine choice over who they book with …..

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  1. Rob Rubin says:

    Forgive my curiosity, but how will Sainsbury’s know if a £30 weekly spend represents 100% of a shopper’s weekly spend on groceries, or if £60 represents 30% of a shopper’s weekly spend on groceries?

    • Mr(s) Entitled says:

      Presumably the algorithm will look at your basket/accumulative shopping. £30 on stables (bread, milk, veg, protien etc although it needs to be smarter than that to aviod penalising vegetarians) will score higher than £60 on Prosecco.

      At first blush it puts loyalty ahead of profit. Interesting concept for a business. Must be confident in the long game.

      • I’m sceptical, sounds like yet another group of consultants have sold Sainsbury’s a “big data” project by promising the moon on a stick.

      • johnny_c-l says:

        Probably a good way to extract marketing investment from suppliers to prop up profits with minimal actual cost of implementing the project.

  2. James says:

    I earn my Avios a few ways and my employer doesn’t pay for lots of flights 🙁
    I also top up now& then on these Groupon/Iberia deals if my balance is dwindling. I do this a little speculatively which I know its not recommended but I can get alright value doing almost last minute UK-EU CE weekend breaks (which if I planned properly I wouldn’t need to do) or positioning flights 😉

    If BA remove F redemption availability or make it an insanely large number of Avios which only the mega rich or corporate flyers (freebies) would ever achieve then Avios would very much lose the plebs like me who collect for aspirational trips. Most of us are all still just peasants with wifi really.
    Also, I don’t want a BA J redemption, I’d rather fly Qatar or one of the other very decent airlines which hit £1k for Asia in a much better J product. I see BA Longhaul in J as a bit naff really. Better than economy of course !! And not bad value on a 2-4-1 voucher, but it still doesn’t excite me or inspire me to collect.

    Anyway, I can’t sleep and am rambling.
    My brain won’t switch off 🙁

    Anyway, my overactive brain has concluded something very important and I may be assassinated for figuring it out. But don’t believe Boris if he says he knows who did it.

    We aren’t farming plants, they are farming us.
    They supply us with oxygen until we die, they feed animals which we kill & eat in order to grow, we eat certain sacrificial plants also in order to grow bigger, then we die & decompose in the ground feeding them all our lovely nutrient rich goodness.

    Anyway, off to sleep now.

    Police say their investigation into the shooting at the YouTube headquarters has been hampered by having to sit through a 5 second advert before interviewing each witness.

  3. Henry Young says:

    Looking for fares into UK from Asia recently I found Etihad were offering a very good deal into Edinburgh with a codeshare to complete the trip to UK. Thankfully I found a day when Qatar could beat the price without the extra hop. Seems they’ve been trying to buy passengers for their Edinburgh route who are not actually going there. I doubt they are hitting capacity limits direct into London so this news is no surprise. Seems Etihad is struggling to compete. Their hub airport issues have to be a contributing factor also. That said I rather like Etihad for shipping the kids around – very solid economy product although they forgot my special meal one time, with a crew reaction that revealed this happens all the time (not a crew problem – they simply don’t get the data and the meals are not loaded it seems). I complained and got some points.

    • JamesB says:

      Etihad already cut capacity on EDI route about a year after launch IIRC. Not surprised they are struggling, Qatar has a better reputation and many going to Dubai likely opt for the greater choice with Emirates from Glasgow. Heading further East, schedules and overall jourey times are usually better with just about any of their many competitors exEDI. Only thing Etihad have going for them is the 242 seat configuration in economy but most potential pax are probably unaware of that. Worst business class flight I took in my life was Etihad from BKK-EDI, highly unlikely I will ever fly them again. Anybkdy looking for cheap one way flights from Asia to UK in any cabin should check out Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia, Garuda and Gulf. Best fares are usually from BKK but sometimes yoh can get a great deal from KUL and SIN.

  4. JamesB says:

    Very interesting news on Sainsbury, I will be interested to see how it develops. They might well have been trialling this on a wider scale via the back door for some time. I commented last year that the amount of promotions I was receiving from Sainsbury seemed unreal, till slips with bonus points on stuff I actually buy regularly, money off online when I was shoppjng instore and vice versa, delivery vouchers, triple points on fuel which was already usually the cheapest in town. It just went on and on, despite having the tesco debit card and receiving £9/6 off £60 spend it was still not worth my while going to tesco.

  5. With £850+ of nectar points cash value at a Sainsburys store, i am at a loss as to what to use them for! I want to offset them agsinst travel but cannot find any airline that they can be used for! Wasn’t easyjet a partner once? Is Expedia now an option……?

    • Callum says:

      Yeah you can use them on most airlines on Expedia.

      It only works on return fares though so I guess that means none of the low cost carriers are included.

    • Unless you’re getting more than the base value of half a pence (usually advertised has 500 points = £2.50) you might as well redeem the points in-store and then use the cash that you saved at Sainsbury’s to spend on flights.

      Last time I looked (admittedly a while back) Expedia and eBay only gave redemptions at base value. So if you want to redeem at the base value and not look for a better option to come round then redeeming at Sainsbury’s and stick the money you would have spent somewhere separate. It’s a lot easier than messing about with the other options assuming you still shop there.

      • That’s what I am doing – reducing our £300+ points value by buying petrol. Then using the money I would have spent on fuel to pay for our flights to Iceland and the rest goes in the holiday savings pot towards flight taxes and surcharges. Rather do this than run a large pts balance.

        • johnny_c-l says:

          I think I may do the same; also have a > £300 balance I don’t know what to do with.

          I tried to redeem some with Expedia last month but it was a complete hassle and wouldn’t work on the website and different customer service agents gave me different answers. I ended up getting them to send the points back to Nectar.

    • Stevie G says:

      It’s all about aspiration. Nectar collecting is like the new Virgin cards. Get a stack of points fairly easy and nowt of interest to use them on. The wow factor does not mean £2.50 off at Argos or a 2 4 1 in Economy.

    • signol says:

      You can use them on Expedia but not against the taxes element of a fare. You can redeem for most (but not all) hotels.

  6. Mikeact says:

    Maybe the Nectar changes may impact Tesco also……to look at revamping their Clubcard scheme..again.

  7. To me that just sounds like they’re taking their current policy further – when they halved earning to 1 point/£ they promised more targeted offers and these did arrive. Unfortunately that just made it harder to judge the value of the scheme and therefore just made Clubcard look more attractive.

    I think it was right for Sainsbury’s to take their (well most still considered it their) scheme in-house and if they can find a way to use it to drive more business to them then great. Hopefully any major changes in the scheme will allow other partners a chance to break their contract with Nectar and develop their own schemes if they should do choose.

  8. Dannyrado says:


    We are headed to London for a two night weekend break next month. Anyone got advice on best rooms for families, hotels that partake in 2nd room 50% off, upgrades, etc, etc?
    I’d join ambassador if it were definitely worth it, already spire in IHG. Hilton gold. SPG gold.
    Looking to stay not too far from Euston because we’ll arrive late with a 6 year old.

    Any suggestions appreciated, there’s a LOT of choice.

    • Bizarrely the premier inn on the Euston rd gets surprisingly good reviews from people I know who’ve done similar – easy walk from the station. Or there’s the Melia White House nearby, which Rob loves.

      • The Holiday Inn Camden Market has rooms with 2 x double beds. Whilst it could possibly be a bit noisy, you are literally 30 seconds over the bridge to the market so there is a huge amount going on. Kid may also enjoy having the canal outside the window.

        Anika stayed at the Pullman St Pancras on Tuesday night and hated it, so cross that off.

  9. Kathy says:

    The Nectar changes are very interesting to me because Sainsburys is only 5 minutes walk away so I end up in there a lot – even though I’m trying to collect Clubcard points – because it’s so much more convenient than Tesco (which I go to about once a month). Cumulatively I must spend more at Sainsbury’s than Tesco although I will only typically spend around £10-£15 per trip there compared to £50-odd a time in Tesco.

    Having said that, the offer coupons I have always found a pain to use – they usually expire before I manage to use most of them. So we shall see.

  10. This is interesting to me… I DO spend most of my supermarket shop in Sainsbury’s… but it’s a relatively low amount because I live alone, am not wasteful, and don’t have particularly expensive tastes. In theory – if the algorithms work – I should benefit from this. But the cynic in me says they rarely do work properly, and I’ll probably lose out. Along with the loss of Waitrose PYO (which I used cleverly for certain regular but more expensive items!), the supermarket loyalty sphere is being shaken up fairly radically really.

  11. RussellH says:

    To repeat what I posted yesterday in the other place:
    We seldom go shopping with a plan – rather we like to see what is really cheap at the time – usually reduced-to-clear and buy that.
    Oh, and Lidl are currently building opposite Sainsbury’s (yes, Sainsbury’s did object, yes, the council rejected their complaint).
    Sainsbury’s can tell just by looking at my Nectar card how long I have had it – they just do not make them like that anymore!
    And no, I neither have, nor want what my little brother calls a smartarse phone.

    • lumma says:

      I wish I still had my old style nectar card, it was practically indestructible. With the new style ones the barcode seems to rub off after a couple of months

  12. mark2 says:

    It would be interesting to see what Sainsbury’s make of an analysis of my purchases there. Every six weeks or so I buy a load of coffee and some compostable food waste bin liners.

  13. Andrew says:

    “Someone who spends all of their £30 weekly food budget at Sainsbury’s should be treated better than someone who spends 30% of a £200 budget”

    Isn’t this missing rather an important aspect of loyalty schemes? Offer lots of bonus offers to the £30 spend customer and the best return you’re ever going to get is £30. Offer bonuses to the 30% of £200 customer and you can potentially capture the other 70%. While I can understand the good intentions behind the approach I can see it being tossed aside as soon as someone runs the numbers.

    • Yes. From that point of view they are approaching it differently to Tesco, who tend believe that their Gold should be to get a little bit more from EVERY customer.

      This should, of course, also be the BA perspective. If every Blue member of BAEC spent an extra 10% with BA it would dwarf the impact of throwing a few extra Avios to fully flex ticket holders. They have this obsession with courting investment bankers whose fully-flex tickets are bought on an airline they can’t choose anyway due to a corporate deal …. (I was such a person for a long time, nothing against bankers in general!).

      • We have the opposite policy……we can book pretty much any airline except BA (Need to get special clearance to fly BA). Will make do with the very good ANA service when I am off to Tokyo on Saturday.

        The policy does provide good opportunity to sample some of the offerings on airlines that I would not otherwise fly (e.g. Jet Airways, Garuda), but not so helpful with Avios collection.

  14. AlanC says:

    I see that Norwegian also making cutbacks at EDI on US flights according to the Edinbrgh Evening News.
    O/T IHG
    Will food and beverage spend on a non qualifying points stay count towards a $40 Accelerate challenge?

    • Roger I* says:

      Not in my case.

      We stayed at the Helsinki airport H Inn on a Pointbreak stay a week ago, bought dinner and breakfast, but so far only the 500 points welcome has posted and the Accelerate score is unchanged.

  15. I hope the Sainsbury’s changes don’t happen. I’ve just moved my weekly shop business there from Waitrose because Waitrose ended the PYO scheme which worked well for me. I didn’t want the faff of using coupons. Similarly, there is no way I am going to be wasting time clicking through weekly offers on an app.

    • Tim W says:

      Just shows what works for some doesn’t for others. I didn’t like the faff of Waitrose PYO so never used it. However the vouchers received since they scrapped the PYO have already saved over £100.

      • Fenny says:

        I’ve not had any Waitrose vouchers in the post since last September. I’ve had a couple of till spits, which were valid for less than a week. £4 off £40 expiring midweek 3 days hence is of no use to me, as I’m not carting £40 of shopping home from work.

  16. Fenny says:

    I have a Waitrose and a Tesco 15 minutes walk from home (5 mins from work). My nearest Sainsburys is 12 miles away. I occasionally shop there if I’ve been to the cinema and I need something on the way home, or the car needs a wash. I go to Waitrose most days at lunchtime to get coffee, so buy most of my “weekly” shop in bits that can be carried home easily. So it sounds as though any offers I might get from Sainsburys will be slightly less useful than 1 point per £1 spent!

  17. Gerry says:

    Flew with Etihad last year into EDI with a packed Business Class and very busy Economy. Shame they are pulling out, but with their recent cutbacks and the excellent service on B787 and A350 from Qatar out of Edinburgh it is little wonder. Adding to that the arrival of Hainan to Beijing ex-EDI, something had to give.

    • Erico1875 says:

      Maybe the way forward is splitting the load I.e EDI and DUB as Hainan have done.
      When etihad and Qatar arrived. I thought Turkish would pull out but they seem to be doing ok

      • JamesB says:

        TK check in has always been packed when I was there at the time. I believe TK also has significantly more destinations than any other airline so that probably helps too, and at times their fares are very competitive.

        • But JamesB do you know anyone who has flown TK from EDI? I dont or they weren’t willing to confess.

          I also presume, ironically, if we fly from EDI with Hainan we can collect and redeem our Etihad miles through them. Can anyone confirm?

        • JamesB says:

          Everybody in check in line I guess but I didn’t stop to see if anybody I knew was trying to hide in there 🙂 Only thing that has put me off is the relatively long sector to IST on a737 compared to an hour to AMS for a KLM connection.

  18. Also regarding the proposed charging of different amounts of Avios on different (i.e. on the more popular for travelling) dates BA tried that before about 8 or 10 years ago (when a lot of their marketing for this idea was all in yellow) but withdrew it within a year as their marketing people quite clearly found collectors of Avios didn”t like the uncertainty of not knowing how many Avios they had to collect to take a particular journey. Additionally I still don”t understand why BA now offers such an appalling deal (because they refuse to offer an equivalent of Reward Saver for journeys beyond the old Zone 3) for using Avios long haul in World Traveller due to the fuel charges = precisely the same as other airlines cheapest cash fares ripoff. Surely they must have unsold inventory in World Traveller on many routes Off Peak so why on earth don”t they want Avios collectors to book these unsold World Traveller tickets?

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