Free hotel smartphone device to hit 1m rooms

A Hong Kong-based company wants to provide a free smartphone in every hotel room in the world, allowing guests to navigate their way around foreign cities, surf the web, and call home at no cost - ending the misery of heavy roaming charges.VIDEO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Fed up with high roaming charges when you go abroad? Hong Kong-based firm Tink Labs says "handy" is the answer. It's a free smartphone for hotel guests. 

"The device here is sitting in the hotel room when the guest checks in, so the guest checks in, walks in the hotel room, finds the device there. The device gives the guests unlimited calls, Internet, and they can take it around town and learn about the city through our city guide and all the different information on the device," said Phil Yuen, chief technology officer from Tink Labs. 

By the end of the year, Tink Labs say there will be handy devices in a million hotel rooms worldwide, half of them in Europe. 

The firm says it will save guests from the misery of large data roaming bills. 

"The idea behind the device is to have the traveller always travel like a local. I do not have to worry about calls or roaming or anything like that. I pick up the device, I have access to all the hotel information, and I have access to all the information about the city telling me what to do, what to eat, where to shop," said Mr Yuen. 

Tink Labs says guests are willing to pay more money to book a room equipped with handy - while the device helps the hotel sell more of its extra services. 

Handy's second generation launches next month, with new features based on client feedback. 

"One of the most important things is that it has the ability to act as a room key, so when integrated with the hotel system this device when you take it out, it can act as a room key, you can use it. You can also use it as a complete in-room control device. So the device itself it's a remote control, you can control lighting, curtains, temperature," said Mr Yuen. 

The company has raised US$125 million (S$174 million) in its latest round of funding. 

It hopes one day to have a device in every hotel room in the world.