Manet: Using technological innovation to upgrade travel experiences
“A useful service solves a concrete problem with a user-friendly solution.” This is the definition of innovation. This is, for example, Manet’s idea: a service that improves the travel experience of tourists in every corner of the world. How? By replacing the now seldom-used landline in hotel rooms with a ready-to-use smartphone that can become a veritable tour operator with translator, currency exchange, booking service, and a 24-hour tour guide. The entrepreneurial drive of 5 Romans under the age of 40 gave birth to Manet in 2015, a company that now has more than 200 customers around the world. A business that was born in a very dynamic Rome, but that Covid brought to an abrupt halt.
“It hurts to see Rome so empty – said Antonio Calia, CEO di Manet – here, just like many other cities with cultural attractions, the pandemic has practically wiped out tourism”. Italy was the first country in the Western world to be affected by the pandemic as was its hospitality sector: losses in this sector amounted to almost 10 billion euros in just 3 months. “We decided to respond immediately by stepping up our digital communications, especially through Google Ads – said CPO Marco Barbato – to let potential customers know about our technological solutions.”
There was a great deal of work to be done: after hearing what their customers wanted, the partners realized that all services needed to be fully digitalized if tourism was to bounce back. “We offered online check in and check out to avoid queues at the front desk; we did the same for breakfast: we included a new smartphone function for guests to book their breakfast time directly from their hotel room to avoid gatherings”. Even an object like a room key now is activated with the smartphone. “The hotel owners were very happy,” Marco added.
Entrepreneurial resilience. Along with a mix of creativity and technological skills to respond to the challenges brought on by the crisis. “The first step involved developing customized Android-based software. It contains all the hotel information and you can book services for restaurants, museums and theaters.” The Manet smartphone is also a telephone, “which can be used to access the internet or as a translator. Tourists therefore always have a small travel assistant with them”, Liparulo ended. “And without Google tools we couldn’t have done it”,
Manet is an acronym for “Mobile ad hoc network”. It is also the name of the famous impressionist artist. This is no coincidence: the startup is based in a city that has a millennium-old charm. When Antonio came up with the idea, the four other starter uppers were academic researchers. His company currently has 20 employees, customers and funders from Italy to Singapore. Enthusiasm created Manet and has made it grow. And continues to guide it every step of the way.