InsightLooking to provide the best vantage points for travelers passionate about Waikiki’s ocean vistas, Aston Hotels & Resorts began testing its new Aston Select initiative this spring, offering guests premium oceanview rooms for about $20 to $30 more per night.

According to Shari Chang, Aston’s senior vice president of sales, marketing and revenue management, the new program has been a hit since its exclusive launch at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel in May.

“Our research has shown that clients are requesting specific views and sometimes they’re getting very frustrated at certain hotels, because what they 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,” she added. “In most hotels it’s the operations people who determine the view, but we decided because we wanted to make sure they really are the best views, we had the sales and marketing team personally walk through with the general manager and hand-select the rooms.”

The initiative features 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 wraparound panoramic vistas, and the Ocean View Select variety begins on the 20th floor and above, showcasing east-facing vistas.

Aston Waikiki Beach ocean viewAston Select rooms also offer a special amenity of local snacks and beverages chosen by the hotel’s general manager, Mark Demello.

“We’ll see how the program goes as we continue our consumer testing,” Chang said. “We’re hoping that we can add even more amenities as we move forward.”

According to Chang, the Select program, which was developed, in part, with feedback from 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 said.

“And sometimes agents get upset because every hotel, I don’t care who you are, has an upsale program at the front desk,” she continued. “But when they’re up-sold at the front desk, the agent doesn’t get a commission on the upsell portion. If agents upsell this ahead of time, getting the best views in the house, then they’re getting the added commission.”

Chang plans to continue testing the Aston Select product for another three to four months at the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel to gather further feedback from agents and customers before adding the program at other Aston properties.

“The initial feedback has been so positive I have no doubt that we will expand it as we move forward,” she said. “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?’”
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