Aston Waikiki Beach vuewAston Hotels & Resorts is launching a program that offers guests premium views for an additional fee.

The Aston Select program will offer premium, oceanview rooms for about $20 to $30 more per night to guests looking for the best views of Waikiki's ocean vistas.

Shari Chang, Aston's senior vice president of sales, marketing and revenue management, said the new program was a hit at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, where it was test-launched in May.

"Our research has shown that clients are requesting specific views and sometimes they're getting very frustrated at certain hotel brands across Hawaii, because what [the hotels] consider an ocean view or a partial ocean view isn't what the customer's perception is," she said. "People are willing to pay a premium if they can have the best views in the property."

Three more properties in 2012

The program proved popular enough that Aston is expanding it to three of its condo hotels, featuring rooms with full kitchens, by the end of this year. Aston is hoping to expand to the Aston Waikiki Beach Tower by September, followed by the Whaler on Kaanapali Beach and then the Aston Kaanapali Shores.

Chang said that at most hotels, the operations team determines what the best views are. Aston wanted to be sure the rooms chosen really had the best views and had its sales and marketing team walk through the hotel with its general manager to hand-select rooms.

At the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, the program offers two room categories with unobstructed views of the Pacific. An Oceanfront Select option includes rooms on or above the property's sixth floor fronting Waikiki Beach and offers 180-degree views, and the Ocean View Select variety begins on the 20th floor and above and boasts east-facing vistas.

Added amenities

Aston Select rooms also offer an amenity of local snacks and beverages chosen by the hotel's general manager.

At the Aston Waikiki Beach Tower, one of Aston's higher-end properties, the amenities might include robes, a bottle of wine upon arrival and possibly a butler assigned to the units. Amenities are still to be determined at the other properties.

Chang said the program, developed in part using feedback from travel agents, offers travel pros an opportunity to ensure client satisfaction while increasing their bottom line.

"It gives them a lot of confidence in knowing they're not going to get a lot of complaints from clients about 'I thought I booked an ocean view, and I'm looking at a wall,'" she explained.

In addition, she noted that if agents sell these rooms ahead of time, they will get the added commission.

Chang knew earlier this summer that the program was likely to expand.

"Many of our other properties are already pushing us, saying, 'We want to participate, too. When is sales going to come and do it here?'" she said.

Aston hopes to expand to additional properties next year.
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI