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What happened at the Head for Points 2019 Summer Party?

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Thank you to everyone who came to our Summer Party on Monday at Renaissance St Pancras.

There were over 500 people in the room at one stage – twice as many as we have ever had before – and we were understandably nervous about what that would mean in terms of logistics, although the feedback we have had so far has been very positive.

With the outdoor patio it certainly didn’t feel too crowded until we made everyone come back in for the raffle draw.  Here it was, empty, at the beginning of the night (click on any image to enlarge):

HFP party

We need to thank Marriott Bonvoy for their generous support of the event. You will have met many of the Bonvoy and Renaissance staff during registration. If you were at our last Christmas party I think you will agree that the check-in process was a lot smoother this time round.

The space was beautifully decorated with a central bar adorned with floral arrangements generously funded by Bonvoy, two of which Rob and I took home at the end of the evening.

We also had Glen Roughead, an impressive acoustic-looping musician, playing:

Head for Points summer party glen roughead

Here is a photo of Andrew, from Marriott Bonvoy, giving his short speech:

Head for Points summer party raffle

What we don’t have is a really good photo showing all 500+ of you in the same shot, which would give a proper feel for the scale of the event.  It was a lot of people.  This is probably the best one:

Head for Points summer party

Towards the end Marriott Bonvoy provided some muffins and macarons, which seemed to be flying like hot (or cold) cakes.

I struggled to get any although I did manage to grab a few macarons when a second round was brought out …. reader Alex managed to get this photo before they were all snapped up:

Head for Points summer party macaroons

Here is Rob with a member of Head for Points commenting royalty:

And Anika, with Jon from South African Airways:

We decided to have a shorter raffle for this event, as is traditional for the Summer parties, although you can expect a longer one again at Christmas.  There were four prizes to be won, generously donated by various properties in the Marriott network:

A champagne afternoon tea at Renaissance St Pancras:

A stay at The Ritz-Carlton Herzliya, Israel:

A stay at The Ritz-Carlton Budapest:

A stay at Sheraton Mallorca Arabella Golf and Spa resort:

Congratulations to all the lucky winners and we hope you enjoy your prizes.

Head for Points summer party bar

If you attended the party please check your email inbox today for a short survey. It is fewer than 10 questions long.  If you have a spare minute we would really appreciate it if you could complete it – we will read all of the comments and do our best to reflect the feedback next time.

Thank you again to everyone who came and made this event such a success, and especially to Marriott Bonvoy (Andrew, Elina, Nidhi, Lauren, Clara, Kate) and Emily and her team at the Renaissance.  See you all at Christmas.

Comments (115)

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

  • Tilly71 says:

    First comment of the day:
    So who is HFP comment royalty?

  • Marcw says:

    Looks like it was a really nice event! Congrats to the HfP team.

  • DaveP says:

    Many thanks to all involved in organising. I thoroughly enjoyed my first HfP event experience and hope to attend future events. Great to speak with people with a passion for travel and to share experiences and tips in getting the best use of hard-earned Avios, etc.

  • N says:

    Very specific, but was the pulling of o2 gigs from the Marriott moments site discussed? Rob, do you know anything about this?

    There used to be loads, none at all now.

    • Kevin C says:

      The events tend to go up in batches.

      A couple of the recent concerts were withdrawn after a few weeks of going up when nobody went for them.

  • Sundar says:

    Great party and special thanks to Marriott for organizing the arrangements and keeping the snacks(crisps) flowing 🙂
    Good to meet some great readers and share ideas and thoughts and future journey plans.
    Was surprising to hear there’s also a WhatsApp group for TP runs(a kind of Mini-do almost). You learn something everyday.

  • Mark says:

    Was a great evening.

    Just a shame that Marriott decided to rip us all off with drinks.

    I purchased my first drink in the event room £12 for a JD but then purchased my second drink from the restaurant bar £8

    • Mark says:

      £11 not £12

      And I have the receipts but can’t post them here.

    • ScienceTeacher says:

      Indeed. Same with the Beers. £6.75 for a 300ml bottle, but £3.50 outside the room!

      That said, the room was really awesome and the event was fun. Thank you to all and Marriot!

      • Rob says:

        Paid drink spend was low, interestingly. The bill for the free drinks was around £4000 with only £2700 taken in cash on top. I was guessing we would hit £10,000. This implies less than one paid drink per person, or perhaps just about one per person if the 2nd one was cheaper than the free one.

        Not sure how many people knew there was a 2nd bar outside. Only 15% of the cash spend went via the outdoor bar.

        • John says:

          I would have spent a lot more on drinks if they were reasonably priced, or even pint sized. Instead I left early with a few others and went to a pub over the road.

          • Genghis says:

            Pints served at the main hotel bar which we brought into the room (but +10% service charge)

          • Alex Sm says:

            @Genghis Did they allow to bring drinks into the room? Because they did not allow to take them out which may have discouraged many from trying their luck

          • Crafty says:

            This is yet another painful example of poorly advised venues shooting themselves in the foot. At £5 a drink most people will have 3. At £6.75 most people will have 1.

          • Luton-bound says:

            Bazza – at less than one paid drink per person being bought, it indicates the majority were “from Luton”(?) and the pricing model didn’t work / was discouraging.

            As a location, it was beautiful, and no doubt if I was there with my partner I wouldn’t be too fussed by the price. But this was a networking event, where there’s a bar in another room selling drinks for cheaper. It’s not the same.

        • Heathrow Flyer says:

          £6.75 for a 330ml bottle was probably too expensive for a lot of folk.

          • Rob says:

            Not exact the poorest bunch of people, HFP readers. Probably around £30m in combined annual salaries in the room!

            We saw the price list in advance but it looked like the standard hotel list (London 5-star hotels are not exactly bargains) – didn’t know it varied from the main bar. HOWEVER …. as you can see from the pics, the hotel went to a massive amount of time and trouble to set up the bar facilities. This isn’t like Camden or Melia where they were serving off a bar already built in.

          • Ian says:

            Doesn’t matter how much the combined salaries in the room were, £6.75 for a 330ml beer is a rip off. The make-up of the bar (temproary or permanent) is irrelevant. And to charge a cheaper price at a different bar in the same hotel is, quite frankly, and absolute disgrace.

          • Rob says:

            It clearly isn’t irrelevant, since the economics of serving from a built-in bar (like Camden) are different to the economics of serving from a purpose-built set up.

            In the same way, we were lucky that this space is not normally used, because there is no lost income to the hotel from letting us have it. At Christmas, another 5-star Marriott wanted £15,000 hire fee (plus bar income) to close off a 250-person space hat would otherwise be serving the public. Plenty of deep pocketed companies would have paid it too.

            At Camden, I think we effectively doubled the revenue of the entire hotel on our party nights (a small, cheap and cheerful Holiday Inn). Renaissance was charging £400 for their cheapest rooms on Monday night – even if they made £2,500 profit from us it is only the equivalent of six rooms. No-one gets rich on this.

          • Rob says:

            The prices are the same for any private event in that space.

          • Rob says:

            Barnaby100 didn’t have her phone stolen. She left it on a table and another guest gave it to Rhys. Rhys made two announcements during the raffle that we had a phone, and we specifically said it belonged to a person with a certain name (as a text came in saying “Hi XXXX”). No-one came forward so we gave it to security. Yesterday, as the person had gone out of London, Rhys and I went back to the hotel to collect it, I went down to Rymans to buy a jiffy bag and I’ve just taken an hour out of my day to head down to the Post Office, queue up and post it back.

    • Chas says:

      I expected expensive drinks prices, but didn’t expect a differential pricing model. What put me off buying any more drinks was the length of time it took to get served. This wasn’t purely because there weren’t quite enough staff to serve 500 people, but they weren’t very efficient when they were serving and trying to take payment. Couple that with the price, and it was just the one-paid for drink for me when ordinarily I would have had several.

      That said I really enjoyed my 1st HfP event and hope to make the Xmas one too. And thanks to everyone involved in organising and funding it – there is always an inordinate amount of time and effort involved in setting up something which on the surface is seemingly simple.

  • *MissGeekChic* says:

    Rhys – I think we need to help educate you on the difference between a Macaroon and a Macaron! Looks like it was a brilliant event – well done, guys.

  • Vasco says:

    You really need to hold in Sheffield next time. 😉

    • Polly says:

      Liz wants us to go to Dundee! Bit too far away l fear…

      • Alex Sm says:

        Let it be the first HfP UK tour! There will be also an opportunity to refresh regional airport lounges reviews

        • Anna says:

          Ideally it would be abroad somewhere, travelling in a CW cabin fully booked out with 2 4 1’s, with 5 nights in a Hilton or Marriott for the points price of 4. Though that would make it more of a convention than a party, I suppose!

      • BlueThroughCrimp says:

        Dundee would be extremely handy for me!

        • Rob says:

          The new Staybridge in Dundee wrote to me two weeks ago offering me a free night for a review. When I said we’d do it if they paid the £275 Loganair flight cost, since I fancied checking out the new V&A, they refused. They assumed we would be happy to spend £400 (Loganair flight, transfers to Stansted, taxis in Dundee etc) of our money and take two days out of our schedule in order to write about Staybridge Suites Dundee.

          • Alan says:

            Would have been far cheaper to fly to Edinburgh (Easyjet or BA – LCY/LGW/LHR) then train to Dundee. Given how many HfP readers there are up here we could have easily sorted you with free transport from the airport I’m sure!

            I’m off to the V&A this evening for Fully Charged – their only other UK event this year (other was at Silverstone in June).

          • Liz says:

            The new Indigo hotel is right beside it.

          • Lady London says:

            Isn’t there a new Doubletree too?

      • Liz says:

        I’d be happy in Edinburgh rather than Dundee!

      • CV3V says:

        I vote we all get the plane to Barra and have a BBQ on the beach, next to the runway. Some can get the ferry.

      • Jill. (kinkell) says:

        No it isn’t! I’ll happily drive down the A9 from Inverness

    • BFT01 says:

      Re: Sheffield: Kelam Island Museum is a nice venue to hold an event.
      The Double Tree by Hilton on Chesterfield Road has a few big events rooms but the food is average
      at best, it has plenty of parking and also buses nearby.
      There is probably other places but I have been to events at both of these venues.

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