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What we’re doing here at Head for Points during these strange days

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I thought it was worth getting a little introspective for a moment and giving you an update on what we’re up to here at Head for Points in these rather confusing times.

When coronavirus broke out we were a little unsure as to how it would impact the site.  Primarily we thought:

we wouldn’t have anything to write about, and

no-one would be reading it anyway

It turns out we were wrong.  Here are our page views for March:

This is 25% higher than our previous best month.  Obviously having a 31-day month helped a bit, but our coronavirus coverage has proved very popular.  We hit 99,164 views on one particular day – literally another 10 minutes and we’d have hit 100,000 for the first time.

We got lucky here.  This Twitter thread, for example, has Nomadic Matt – probably the biggest generalist travel blogger in the world – discussing his complete collapse in page views.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that revenue has obviously fallen sharply.  All of our direct-sell advertising has been pulled, and Google Adsense – which we use to fill the gaps – is down about 50% on a ‘pence per page’ basis.  You will have noticed that the travel ads usually served up by Adsense have been replaced by fairly random stuff.

The majority of the travel affiliate schemes have also been pulled so we won’t make anything on the bulk of the hotel or flight bookings made through the site for a few months.  The credit cards are still paying, but clearly few people are applying for cards which require £3,000 of spending in the next 90 days to trigger a sign-up bonus.

Please don’t feel sorry for us though.  We make good money when everything is going well and we can absorb this.

In terms of staffing, we are keeping the team (Rhys, Anika, Sinead) together on full pay – no furloughs.  I think if people are willing to commit their livelihoods to working for a small business like this then you should stand behind them.

We have temporarily dropped the WeWork office.  We didn’t have much choice, since we can’t access it and WeWork was not offering any rent reductions. It’s not as if they are going to relet our space in the interim.  Of course, whether WeWork survives is a different matter – apparently their rent bill on our building alone is £10m per year and business rates will be roughly similar ….

In terms of content, we intend to keep the ‘three articles per day’ structure.  It has been remarkably easy so far – in fact, we’ve had a bigger problem deciding what we can fit in over the last few weeks.  It seems to be quietening down a little now, so we can kick off with some new ideas we’ve been working on.  We have some interesting strands where we will want reader contributions and we will be running updated versions of our core reference articles, starting next week with the ‘Avios Redemption University’ series.

Thank you for your continued support of HfP and for sticking with us during a period when our content is skewed more towards general aviation and hotel news than loyalty deals.  The list of things we want to do and see when the skies reopen is growing weekly – a Royal Air Maroc flight review needs doing as they joined oneworld yesterday, for example – and hopefully we can do a massive catch-up during Quarter 3.  We’ll all be desperate for some time out of the house, that’s for sure.

Comments (87)

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  • mr_jetlag says:

    Good to hear, hope revenue picks up again.

    How are you progressing on the road to 1m comments?

    • Rob says:

      422,800 as of now 🙂

      • Rhys says:

        …but we did pass 1,000 on one article for what I think is the first time!

        • marcw says:

          But over many days. I think the best ever (excitement) comment section was the chilly article.

        • Anna says:

          I think the Curve/Amex debacle may have racked up more than that!

      • mr_jetlag says:

        nice. I remember you mentioning this was a powerful stat for the advertisers.

  • Nick M says:

    Thank you for the insight – it’s articles like this which really make the site much more meaningful and keep us wanting to check in (multiple) times per day!

  • Travel Strong says:

    In the past few weeks, when family/friends/colleagues have had travel disruption queries or planned flight/hotel/holiday cancellations – I have directed them towards HFP: the only place with ALL the answers! “If it’s not in an article, you’ll find what you need in the comments”.

    • Cat says:

      Yes, I’ve directed a few people here too. I can’t even tell you how much the constant stream of good advice has been appreciated.

  • Sarah-Jane Judge says:

    Sorry if this has been asked elsewhere, and I appreciate its a bit of a hypothetical at the moment but I’m looking for hive mind / expert predictions!

    We had Llyods upgrade voucher which had to be booked by 31st Jan. Middle of Jan we used it to book business class BA flights to Dom.Rep. for September. We literally only picked this holiday and to fly with BA because of the voucher and the available reward seats.Otherwise we would likely have used our Avios on a different trip with different airline.

    I know we can cancel at any time for £35 per person and get Avios and taxes back but that we would lose the voucher. If this pandemic situation rolls on and we can’t fly to Dom.Rep what do we think BA likely to do in terms of that voucher? I’m hoping that BA would be keen to keep our custom so would reissue the voucher with an extended date OR let us rebook the same conditions for a later date? I see that current vouchers are being extended but only April or March?

    TIA for any replies

    • Mikeact says:

      At present, you can change the travel date up to the end of the voucher validity, either by extending it to the very last voucher date or by changing the destination to somewhere in the same zone….of course by applying the change fee applicable today.
      One of my vouchers, I’ve changed 2/3 times, and we now have a one way flight booked on the very last day of validity in July.
      In theory, it cannot be extended anymore, as of today.
      But, I am going to sit tight to wait and see what happens . If the flight is cancelled, I guess will extend it…perhaps by 6 months……who knows.
      If the flight is on, then we will take a view. If that means we lose the voucher by cancelling, then so be it. However, I will still put a call in a few days before…just to check if an extension will be possible.
      It’s all a bit uncertain, but compared to others in ghastly situations, we are just grateful to be in a decent home with superb support….and the Lloyds voucher is the last thing thing to worry about.

      • Sarah-Jane Judge says:

        Thats super helpful thanks.I hadn’t even thought of cancelling and booking something else with it now for a later date. I think we will ride it out till middle of July and then reschedule something for towards the end of the voucher (end January 2021) if things aren’t looking good. I hope you still get to use your voucher too! And of course, its small fry in comparison but I’m cancelling all my other plans right now and I thought it was worth hearing other peoples thoughts on it

        • Mikeact says:

          You do have quite a choice of alternative destinations in the Punta Cana zone….assuming availability. Rob actually lists all BA destinations with Avios pricing on here.
          To give you an idea, Phoenix, San Francisco, Antigua, CapeTown, (our favourite), Cancun, StKitts, Tampa, San Diego, Vancouver, the Seychelles and Male, etc.,etc.
          If you’re thinking of warm sunshine, then change your booking sooner rather than later.

  • Alex Sm says:

    Please continue with the general aviation and travel economics staff mixed with occasional reviews – it’s very vital and useful, including for understanding of airline business and what drives it.

    It is definitely much more relevant than endless lists of business fares 90% of which are irrelevant for 90% of the readers.

    • Rob says:

      Substantially less profitable though ….

      • Mark says:

        And the sale articles are of interest to some of us looking at alternate cheap ways to travel in business class (or at least they are in normal times!)

  • AndyGWP says:

    Nice article – thanks for the update 🙂

  • Pareet Shah says:

    Great job HFP team and community. You’ve been a great source of information and have helped us with 4 long haul holidays in the last 2 years. We were meant to fly to California this weekend (sigh), however the great article posted several days ago helped us to apply for a refund from BA. Hope everyone stays healthy and safe so we can enjoy travelling again in the future.

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