Hotel guests to get a more Handy smartphone to discover Singapore

Handy loan smartphones are available for free for guests at partner hotels such as The Ritz-Carlton. The smartphone loan service, which has a counter in Orchard Road, will be beefed up to include new features.
Handy loan smartphones are available for free for guests at partner hotels such as The Ritz-Carlton. The smartphone loan service, which used to have a counter in Orchard Road, will be beefed up to include new features. PHOTOS: TINK LABS

A handy travel device aimed at tourists will get an upgrade next year, allowing visitors to Singapore to access a slew of new services, including a concierge on the go.

From next year, guests at participating Singapore hotels will get more tools on smartphones to better discover and experience what the island has to offer.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding signed yesterday between Hong Kong-based technology company Tink Labs and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), both parties will jointly market Singapore as a destination to users of the mobile service in overseas cities.

The smartphone loan service by Tink Labs, called Handy, has been used by more than 10 million visitors globally.

In Singapore, the device is free for guests of more than 22,000 hotel rooms in partner hotels, including the Carlton City Hotel.

A Handy loan smartphone currently allows hotel guests to tap unlimited mobile data and make international and local calls. It also includes access to hotel services and a built-in city guide.

Under the new agreement, the Handy phones will be beefed up to include new features, such as a chat concierge.

The smartphone loan service by Tink Labs, called Handy, has been used by more than 10 million visitors globally. In Singapore, the device is free for guests of more than 22,000 hotel rooms in partner hotels, including the Carlton City Hotel.

The chat concierge will allow users to get help through a chat service, including asking for directions, getting food recommendations and booking tickets.

Users of the handsets will also be able to get customised tourism-related information based on their preferences and location.

When it was founded in 2012, Tink Labs' Handy service began as a device-lending service that targeted travellers at airports and other transit hubs for a rental fee.

In January last year, Handy's Singapore services were available exclusively at partner hotels for free for their guests. "By offering it for free, it boosts guests' satisfaction," said Tink Labs strategy manager Jeremy Cheung.

Tink Labs cited an independent study conducted last year by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which found that guests were willing to pay higher room rates for a room equipped with a Handy device.

For hotels, it is a powerful medium to engage guests, such as through discount offers, hotel services and facilities, he added.

Content from STB's YourSingapore website - featuring things to do, events, festivals and places to see - will be made available on the Handy smartphones.

Another feature tourists can expect while using the loan smartphones is augmented reality, which allows digital content to be displayed over what a user sees on the phone's screen through the device's camera.

This could include playing video clips that re-enact scenes from the past when the user is at a historical site and viewing the area through the Handy phone.

This collaboration with Tink Labs is the latest in a series of partnerships STB has inked recently with major mobile chat services, such as WeChat.

On the enhanced Handy service, Mr Quek Choon Yang, STB's chief technology officer, said that by putting relevant content and convenient services at visitors' fingertips, "this is in line with our ongoing quality tourism efforts to engage our visitors in more innovative ways".


Correction note: An earlier version of the story stated incorrectly that the Ritz-Carlton is one of the partner hotels for the Handy service. STB made an error in its media release. The Ritz-Carlton is not one of the partner hotels for the Handy service.

Correction note: The photo caption in an earlier version of this story said that the Handy smartphone loan service has a counter in Orchard Road. This is incorrect. The counter is no longer in operation. We are sorry for the error.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 18, 2016, with the headline 'Hotel guests to get a more Handy smartphone to discover S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe