Subsidized Smartphones from Hong Kong Hotels

Handy Hong Kong

A piece on Engadget caught my eye over the weekend, reminding me of something I’d seen on reddit months ago. A company called handy Travel is making news about their handset rental service for tourists visiting Hong Kong. Priced at $88 HKD per day it doesn’t really compete with, say, a Discover Hong Kong Tourist SIM. But depending on where you’re staying you might get your handy rental for free.

How can this be? Read on and find out!

The Buzz

Launched last fall, handy has been getting lots of buzz in the months since. A sample:

People who have actually tried the service seem to like it. That’s something.

The Phone

According to Engadget, handy’s current hardware is the Alcatel Idol X, reviewed by Howard last winter. It doesn’t seem to support local LTE service, but you could certainly do worse.

The Value-Add

The aforementioned Hong Kong tourist SIM comes with a bunch of paper coupons; handy’s handset is similarly-equipped with electronic versions of similar deals. What’s more, handy provides a Hong Kong city guide pre-loaded on every device, along with some thoughtful Android travel apps.

Now here’s the big thing: handy has partnered with a bunch of local hotels; if you’re savvy enough to book a stay at one of these properties you may well get your handy rental—and unlimited 3G data service—for free!

A sample of partner hotels:

More properties can be found by combing through these reviews from handy’s hotel guests.

The Catch

So a handset rental, pre-loaded with everything a traveller needs, plus unlimited data, at potentially no cost with your hotel stay… There has to be a catch, right?

From handy’s own hospitality page, here’s the catch:

What are the benefits for my hotel?

handy is proven to be ROI positive. Incorporating our device into your hotel will lead to greater guest engagement, and drive incremental revenue from customized promotional content for your outlets and services, giving you a guaranteed edge over your competitors.

I think this is a nice way of saying that your handy handset will have a bunch of crapware on it—kind of like the hotel channel on your in-room entertainment system that you never watch.

Still, free data is free data. Would a free handset rental be a factor in your next hotel booking?