ALPHA RED SERVICES
Capturing global airline distribution market share with our technology aiming to save costs for airlines
- Alpha Red Services is a fast-growing B2B air travel content aggregator, tapping air travel revenues in excess of US$800 billion.
- The company was founded by a group of highly experienced travel industry personnel who seek to manage and organize the maze of air travel content available online.
- Our proprietary cloud-based technology platform, T-Commerce Gateway (TCG), provides structured access to air travel content via a single API interface.
- Built in 2016 to disrupt the air travel industry, TCG pioneers an innovative aggregation system that connects directly to key regional airlines and their reservation systems, and allows our travel portal partners to bypass traditional, outdated and expensive industry distribution channels altogether.
- Our travel portal partners, mainly Online Travel Agents (OTAs), can easily assess millions of daily routes, timetables, fares and deals aggregated from key regional airlines with real-time offers and availability, make bookings and buy ancillary services.
- Our airline partners not only get to lower their transaction cost to a fraction of the industry norm, but can also leverage TCG to penetrate and access new markets without having to incur significant distribution and marketing spend.
- The TCG platform is gaining strong traction as a niche air travel content aggregator among established OTAs in the region, including China’s largest OTAs – today, we serve the top five China OTAs.
- With links to as many as 14 (and growing) major airlines in the region, we were previously responding to more than 15 million searches daily pre-COVID 19.
- Given its highly scalable business model, Alpha Red Services was on track to achieve break-even this year (vs. RM812,073 loss in 2019 and RM712,606 loss in 2018); however, this is now pushed back to 2021 due to the impact of the pandemic.
- Considering the pre-pandemic uptrend and potential upside of the business, we expect Alpha Red Services’ annual profit for 2022 to 2024 to be approximately RM3 million, RM8 million and RM19 million respectively.
- As a testament to our business model resilience, we are already seeing a positive recovery that is outpacing that of the pandemic-gutted travel industry.
- The capital raise will allow us to stay ahead of our partners’ evolving industry expectations by making strategic enhancements to our platform leveraging the latest technology.
- With this investment in technology, we aim to double the number of airline partners on our platform, and continue our mission to be a top-notch air travel content platform linking our airline partners and travel portal partners.
Airlines have been slow to innovate and change despite being a relatively well-developed industry. Plagued by their respective complex and outdated systems linking many different industry distribution systems, airlines have not been able to functionally cope with fast-evolving global market booking behavioural changes, such as increasing demand for local languages and payment methods. On top of that, overseas distribution cost for airlines have continued to be stubbornly high.
- Online Travel Agents (OTAs)
Faced with thinning profit margins amidst competition in a highly fragmented industry, OTAs struggle to commercially justify the significant upfront investment and resource requirement to develop direct integration that can connect to each and every airline and handle the highly complex airline booking systems. As such, they remain stuck with no effective solution in sight and continue to put up with the cost and operational disadvantages.
- Game-changing B2B air travel content aggregator
With the market becoming more competitive, the travel industry is in dire need of a single comprehensive B2B platform that transcends beyond a one-to-one connection with individual airlines, and offers more commercial functions/options to manage and organize the plethora of air travel content available online. Not only will OTAs be able to access content, make bookings and buy ancillary services with real-time offers and availability, but the single connection will also allow airline partners to be more innovative via product bundling and value-add offers.
- Agile and Sophisticated Platform
A platform of convenience, the solution must feature cutting-edge technology adept at responding to and dealing with the high-volume industry demand as well as highly cumbersome and complex airline booking systems.
- T-Commerce Gateway (TCG) is the integrated travel content aggregator platform developed through the expertise of Alpha Red Services’ experienced travel industry team.
- By providing structured access to travel content via a single API interface, TCG directly connects OTAs to airlines and their reservation systems, thus bypassing cumbersome outdated traditional distribution channels and offering both airlines and OTAs significant transaction cost savings.
- Through TCG’s ‘bolt-on’ open system, airlines can now finally transact, innovate their products easily and meet fast-evolving customer needs without disrupting their entrenched complex airline booking system.
- TCG’s own gateway technology is certified with industry-standard IATA NDC Level 3 Certificate. TCG is hosted on Amazon Cloud and utilizes Microsoft Technology and mySQL database. The platform supports both XML and JSON and is highly scalable, handling 15 million daily searches in 2019.
- By providing a single standard integration format for our portal partners, TCG can support any integration method with airline booking systems.
- With low onboarding cost, T-Commerce Gateway (TCG) has seen strong traction with airlines and OTAs. Today, 14 major airlines are connected and ‘live’ on the platform, while established OTAs in the region including the top five largest Chinese OTAs (representing 75% Chinese travel market share) are now using TCG as their preferred air travel content aggregator.
- In 2019, with only seven airlines ‘live’ on the platform, there were 27,371 bookings worth RM8.7mil, up from 12,587 bookings worth RM5.1mil in the first full year 2018.
- TCG is, expectedly, not immune to the impact of COVID-19 on the travel industry. That said, business is recovering faster than the industry after the initial demand slump, which clearly demonstrates the resilience of the business model.
- Interestingly, airlines and OTAs have taken advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to improve their eco-systems, and TCG has benefited significantly with a notable increase in the number of airlines and OTAs joining the platform. In the last six months, six additional airlines have gone ‘live’ while three new OTAs are now using TCG. Recently, China’s biggest airline, China Southern, has also agreed to come on board, with the launch targeted to happen as soon as Chinese borders open for travel.
- As our business is largely underpinned by regional travel, we are encouraged that it will be the same segment that will be the first to lead the recovery in the air travel industry. With growing regional airline coverage on TCG, we will be able to offer more options to serve the anticipated demand for regional travel when the recovery momentum picks up. We will be in a sweet spot to ride the post-pandemic recovery wave.
- Notwithstanding positive gross margins, Alpha Red Services has incurred losses of RM712,606 in 2018 and RM812,073 in 2019 respectively mainly due to continued platform development expense.
- The company was expecting to break even this year; instead, this is now pushed back to next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with 2020 net loss still manageable at RM642,000 and 2021 net profit estimated at RM487,000. (see Update Section for new revised 2020 net loss RM507,311 and 2021 net profit RM530,214)
- Given its high operating leverage underpinned by its scalable business model and more partners coming on board, Alpha Red Services is forecast to make RM3 million, RM8 million and RM19 million net profit between 2022 and 2024 respectively.
- An integrated travel content aggregator, we serve airlines and OTAs at both ends of the spectrum. We are proud to be working with some of the largest OTAs in China and the region as well as major established airlines. We expect growth to accelerate as more demand begets demand.
- T-Commerce Gateway (TCG) on-sells and distributes air tickets either on commission arrangement with airlines (~3-5%) or air ticket mark-up (~1-2%), the latter of which can also be seen as booking fee. Other than air ticket income, TCG also earns additional booking fees for ancillary products, for example, seat, meal, baggage, etc.
- It is key to understand the scalability of the TCG platform. With the core technology platform largely developed and built, TCG will greatly benefit as more airlines and OTAs coming on board drive significant operating leverage. Alpha Red Services will need to respond by putting up more working capital with the increased business.
- While the industry remains clouded with uncertainty as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen the recovery and resilience of the global travel industry time and again. In fact, up until last year, global travel has continuously recorded strong growth with Asia in the lead.
- Notwithstanding the forecast by business data platform Statista that revenues will be halved this year, we foresee a strong recovery in 2021 with the markets gradually opening up, followed by a full recovery in global demand by 2023 (exceeding that of 2019).
- The travel industry is no different from virtually every other industry where technology can be credited to drive growth. Indeed, Statista has forecast online sales to grow structurally over time, benefitting travel tech platforms. Their potential growth knows no bounds, as advancements in technology make it much easier for industry players and travellers.
Global Flight Revenues
Asia Flight Revenues
Global Online vs Offline
- The T-Commerce Gateway (TCG) platform is probably one of its kind in the region.
- Nonetheless, with the expected continued industry growth as well as structural online tailwind, competition is expected to accelerate. Hence, it is key to be ahead of the curve among the handful of established competitiors and gain credibility among OTA customers and users.
- Alpha Red Services aims to build as many beachheads as possible and be the preferred technology platform in the sticky travel market.
- Alpha Red Services will focus on Asia, where local languages and payment customization can create differentiation in penetration and adoption.
- Below is a comparison between the TCG platform and other established global content aggregator platforms:
- Established travel content aggregator mainly to facilitate direct airline connection
- Seen as more airline friendly, travel agency incur expensive charges for bookings
- Positioned more as an airline IT solution company
- Helps implement New Distribution Capability (NDC)-compliant ticketing gateway for airlines, but this comes with high investment and maintenance cost for airlines
- Does not offer ready OTA connections to airlines
Flight Route 24 (China)
- Focuses more on being a content aggregator for direct connection, screen scrapping, other aggregators and global distribution systems (GDS)
- Only helps airlines save partial distribution cost
- With the business largely self-funded, we are looking to raise funds mainly for working capital as we broaden commercial partnerships with airlines and support fast-growing demand with the onboarding of more travel portal partners (mainly OTAs).
- Alpha Red Services is forecast to break even next year and deliver RM3 million profits in 2022; pre-money valuation of RM22 million values the company at less than 10X price to earnings ratio. We target to raise up to RM3 million with a minimum RM300,010 raise.
To be the preferred air travel content aggregator focused on managing and organizing the maze of online air travel content available globally
- Initially bootstrapping, founder Cheah Kwan Cheong (KC), together with his team at his technology consulting company, Alpha Red Solution, spent time and effort to build and develop T-Commerce Gateway (TCG) in its initial stages including proof of concept.
- As TCG gained traction, KC incorporated Alpha Red Services to raise RM1 million in 2018 from angel investors with diverse backgrounds in the finance, banking, fintech and legal fields.
Prior to this crowd-funding round, Alpha Red Services’ existing shareholders, as a show of confidence, have agreed to undertake a rights offering with the objective of repaying the shareholders’ loan and making Alpha Red Services a debt-free company.
- KC is extremely passionate towards travel tech and has close to two decades of direct industry experience, including a decade working and building technology for AirAsia in its early days, and two years at Travelport.
- KC also co-founded Mayflower Online, which he helped lead to digitize the conventional travel business at Malaysia’s leading travel agency, Mayflower Group.
- KC was inspired to design and build the TCG platform solution from scratch in 2016 after experiencing first-hand the structural pain of the airlines and OTAs within the industry.
- In addition to a strong core team, KC is supported by a group of company advisors who provide financial, legal and technology counsel. This ensures Alpha Red Services is well managed in every aspect of the business as we continually enhance and differentiate the business platform and accelerate our growth.
- Alpha Red Services is a business built largely on cutting-edge technology and automation.
- Our core team comprises both tech enthusiasts/experts and super-experienced travel industry professionals striving to create and deliver an elevated travel booking experience to our partners.
- As we continue to widen and expand the base (with more airlines and travel partners coming on board), we will be on the lookout for like-minded people to strengthen the core team.
No media coverage as yet on T-Commerce Gateway. Media coverage on founder KC Cheah as listed below.
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TCG new sales record press coverage
As we look to close our crowdfunding exercise soon, we wanted to share some of the recent media coverage that we recently had with some major news press in Malaysia. We thank all our supporters and look forward to more!
Yet Another New Monthly Sales Record
Sustaining the strong sales recovery momentum since the industry bottomed end-2Q, Alpha Red Services has hit a new monthly air ticket sales record again with November sales reaching new high at RM 2.4 million. This follows the previous record October performance - again testament to Alpha Red Services very resilient business model allowing it to not only recover faster than industry but to have an outsized gain on the recovery.
Founder KC Cheah adds, “The record November sales performance underpins the leverage and robustness of our business model to the air travel industry independent of airlines or online travel agents. It is not a question of “if but when” the industry recover and when it fully recovers, Alpha Red Services will be ready to take off and rise beyond. With October/November 2020 sales already exceeding pre-COVID 4Q 2019 sales, December sales will power us to a new quarter record for Alpha Red Services.”
Profit Forecast Upgrade
With the recent strong air ticket sales in last few months, Alpha Red Services’ RM 4.1 million air tickets sales (October 2020 ytd) has already met our original 2020 air ticket sales (presented earlier during “pre-live”). We were previously expecting a large hit to our business due to the wide spread pandemic hit to global travel industry but as it now shows, this has proved to be overly conservative. With this sales momentum looking to continue as we approach the seasonally high sales year-end, T Commerce Gateway 2020 sales could potentially end up been very close to last year MYR 8.7 million sales.
Given the strong sales momentum, underpinned by the robust business model, we are now RAISING our topline forecast by 82% to RM 7.5m. With the strong cost control still in place, this reduces our loss forecast from RM 642,358 to RM 507,311.
While the topline could well still surprise on the upside, what is even more positive is the more lucrative margin for these air tickets sales in last few months. As these ticket sales are from lower domestic price air travels, as the platform pricing model is based on the higher of either sales commission percentage (1%) or fixed US$1 per booking fee, T Commerce Gateway is making more money for these air travel bookings. With higher profitability allowing Alpha Red Services to recoup some of its earlier unabsorbed overheads (during COVID shutdown months mainly second quarter), this has been very encouraging development for the business.
It is our expectation for Alpha Red Services to still be in the red this year, but if the very strong positive business momentum continues, combined with active cost cutting, Alpha Red Services could well breakeven earlier than expected.
We look forward to the next two months business momentum. Stay tuned for more updates!
COVID-19 Marginal Impact
As we go ‘live’, Alpha Red Services is very pleased to be reporting the strong sales recovery testament to its resilient business model.
Notwithstanding the still weak global travel industry, Alpha Red Services platform “T Commerce Gateway” air ticket sales have surprisingly recovered very strongly (as seen in the sales chart below). In fact, underpinned by the very strong month-on-month sales growth acceleration, last month October were hitting new sales records for the business, with this one month sales alone in fact more than beating the entire three months sales booked prior (July to September 2020). Recall that domestic/regional air travel resume as early as late June, and given the T Commerce Gateway platform leverage to this same travel, business has recovered strongly.
Good news is that this continue to look very sustainable with November sales momentum looking equally strong. We look forward to an even stronger seasonal year-end business in November and December 2020.
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