The ‘Handy’ smartphone device, which offers free phone calls and data, is on schedule to be in one million hotel rooms around the world by the end of this year.

The devices have become familiar to visitors to Hong Kong, where Tink Labs, the company behind Handy, is based. The smartphone allows visitors to make unlimited local and international calls, as well as use data on the phone – and use it to create a wifi hotspot for other connected devices such as the traveller’s own smartphone, iPad or laptop.

As part of Tink Labs’ expansion, the company aims to have its devices in 500,000 European hotel rooms, a quarter of which will be in UK, by the end of the year.

The company has already established a series of partnerships with major hotels including IHG, Sheraton, Novotel, Mercure, Intercontinental, Ritz London, Crowne Plaza, and Holiday Inn.  The device was already in the Mercure Hyde Park property when we reviewed it last year, for instance.

To date, Handy is already available in 20 major cities, being used by nearly 25 per cent of London’s hotels.

“We’ve been seeing a rapid uptake of Handy devices and are on track to exceed our global expansion plans for the year of placing units in one million hotel rooms.” said Terence Kwok, CEO and founder of Tink Labs.

“Hotel guests enjoy being able to make free calls, while receiving insights that allow them to live like a local. Meanwhile, hoteliers benefit from being able to stay connected to – and improve the experience of – their guests, resulting in increased sales of hotel services.”

The smartphones are free for guests to use (though there is a charge if you lose or break them), and are attractive to hoteliers since the devices also can be customised to provide information on the services in the hotel such as restaurants and spas, including pushing through offers on the phone.

Tink Labs says this increases revenue from guests, as well as increasing guest approval for properties that have them (including Trip Advisor ratings), and adds that the phones have moved from a differentiator between hotels to a “must have” as far as guests are concerned.