WESTON, FL – March 18, 2020 – Monaker Group, Inc. (NASDAQ: MKGI), a technology leader in the travel and vacation rental markets, is providing its industry partners, stakeholders and shareholders with an update on its recent corporate initiatives and response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 outbreak is having an enormous impact on the travel industry, ranging from hotels and cruise ships temporarily suspending operations to airlines discontinuing flights in many regions. However, according to a report issued on March 11, 2020 by the Alternative Lodging Rental (ALR) industry watch dog, AirDNA, the impact on the global ALR markets has reportedly been less significant.
Monaker has implemented comprehensive measures to address concerns regarding COVID-19 for our employees, booked travelers, property guests and stakeholders.
Given our focus on the leisure ALR market and anticipating a return to more normalized market conditions over the coming months, Monaker’s strategy continues to center around strengthening its position as an industry leader for instantly bookable and confirmed reservations for alternative lodging and vacation home rentals. The Company is leveraging its proprietary travel technology and unique industry position through its diverse portfolio of travel brands, including the Monaker Booking Engine (MBE), Maupintour, and NextTrip.
Monaker CEO, Bill Kerby, commented, “Notwithstanding the turbulence and disruptions in the travel industry, we would like to reassure our partners, stakeholders and shareholders that Monaker is continuing to develop its proprietary travel platform and implement our ongoing platform integrations with multiple travel distributors. We expect travel to begin the process of recovery over the next quarter, and as this happens, vacation rentals are projected to become a more desirable lodging option for travelers since they offer the safety, flexibility and comfort of a home.”
As both a B2B and B2C provider through its ALR booking technology, Monaker is disrupting the travel industry by making alternative lodging and vacation home rentals more easily accessible to travel distributors and their customers. Further, by virtue of its instant booking confirmation technology, the MBE can support reservation packages regardless of the booking channel.
Following the recently completed integrations with several large travel distributors, since the beginning of the year, Monaker has begun to see a steady rise in search and bookings on its platform. Through to the beginning of March, it recorded a 26% increase in total booked revenue and 173% increase in recognized revenue.
Monaker also enjoys certain strategic advantages as a result of its positioning in the ALR sector, including its broadly-based global inventory of more than 2.6 million homes with a concentration on single unit properties. This allows renters to pick local areas to vacation while avoiding exposure to dense gathering conditions present on cruise, air and resort bookings. The Company is cautiously optimistic that its revenue trend and bookings will improve as restrictions on travel resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 begin to subside.
Mr. Kerby continued, “While it is unfortunate the global coronavirus pandemic arose just as we began to see a ramp in ALR booking activity, we don’t expect to be severely impacted by cancellations. We now expect our ramp in new bookings will be slower and most likely delayed into the summer. We are encouraged that prior to the outbreak, our booking trends were very favorable, reflecting the activity of our new contracted integrations with multiple major distributors.”
The Company continues to develop its strong partnership with RateGain/DHISCO to increase the number of distribution partners connected to the Monaker Booking Engine (MBE). This includes three main elements:
- Integration of the MBE to RateGain/DHISCO for distribution of ALR inventory to DHISCO demand (distribution) partners. This integration will allow a DHISCO demand partner to access the MBE with no time consuming or costly software development.
- Account management partnership that strengthens Monaker’s sales efforts by utilizing existing customer success resources at RateGain to approach new demand (distribution) partners. Since launching the partnership with Monaker in February, RateGain has created relationships with approximately 10 new demand partners seeking access to ALR inventory, including some of the world’s largest online travel agencies (OTAs).
- Content support from RateGain/DHISCO to improve the quality of the ALR content, including property descriptions and images.
Monaker was recently notified of the first formal demonstration of its ALR inventory by Trisept to a major North American travel distributor using the MBE production platform. This demonstration is a major milestone in contracting and launching with a major travel distributor who utilizes Trisept for its dynamic packaging solutions. Additional Trisept distribution partners have been identified to sell Monaker’s ALR inventory.
Update on other key Monaker corporate initiatives:
- Recent implementation of a Virtual Credit Card solution that allows the processing of settlements with distributors without wire and other transaction fees. This functionality allows Monaker to meet the requirements of large distribution partners who seek a simplified booking payment process.
- Signing commercial agreements with travel agents and OTAs to expand the MBE connections and users through two already established technology connections that have been booking ALR reservations for several months.
- Increasing ALR inventory supply in key markets, including North America, where inventory gaps exist. Monaker is currently in discussions with two large luxury brands with vacation home rental inventory in desirable locations.
Cost Reductions & Returns on Investment
Since the fourth quarter of calendar 2019, several key elements were implemented to reduce costs and achieve a better operating efficiency This includes the adoption of Agile software development and project management methodologies which allow for better prioritization of software development efforts, increased scalability, and greater deliverable performance. By adopting Agile, the Company has been able to better control fluctuations in software development costs by aligning business needs with available software development resources.
The Company has also insourced its project management allowing the Company to better prioritize technology projects, monitor vendor performance, and improve project execution performance.
Over the past year, the Company has relied on liquidating noncore assets as well as drawing down on credit facilities to fund operations. This remains management’s preferred funding strategy so as to minimize shareholder dilution. However, management will continue to monitor the impact of the coronavirus and adjust plans accordingly.
As illustrated in the chart below (Source: Skift Research www.skift.com), travel have been an enduring global megatrend over many years. While financial and global health crises have periodically impacted the travel industry, travel has shown tremendous resilience and recovered with increasing number of travelers. As a result, the expectations of many is that the megatrend will continue far into the future.
Monaker Booking Engine Update
Monaker has made a significant investment in the development of the Monaker Booking Engine (MBE), a cloud-based software platform that provides business-to-business connectivity to sell instantly confirmable alternative lodging rentals. The MBE is a disruptive technology that transforms the ALR-industry by being the only known solution that allows travel agents, online travel agencies, travel wholesalers, airlines, tour packaging companies, and other travel services to dynamically book ALR inventory with air, car, train, tour and cruise packages.
Comprised of a both testing and existing integrations, the MBE has been processing more than 16 million data requests per month for connected partners. Response times have been less than one second when processing availability requests for the Monaker’s global ALR inventory. Recent tests with several large-scale distribution partners which are implementing connectivity to the MBE have demonstrated that the booking engine is capable of processing more than 50,000 shopping requests per hour. The platform is monitored in real time by Monaker’s IT team, and performance can be scaled to manage increased demand.
In December 2019, Monaker hired a new vice president of business development for Maupintour who has been focused on strengthening relationships with travel agents, expanding its tour product offering beyond Europe, and developing the overall product offerings by creating partnerships with luxury hotels, private jet operators, and cruise/sailing lines.
The Company is planning to launch a new customer-centric Maupintour website that emphasizes tours, luxury vacation experiences, and luxury/ultra-luxury vacation home rentals. It will feature new self-service options for travel agents and individual travelers.
NextTrip.biz represents the industry’s first business travel solution that offers access to global ALR inventory.Monaker has engaged an experienced user interface and user experience firm to assist with designing the NextTrip.biz website. The company has also engaged prospective corporations to participate as Customer Advisory Board members to help guide the development of the NextTrip.biz platform. Monaker has signed distribution agreements with several travel wholesale providers to provide discounted air, hotel, and car rentals.
Mr. Kerby concluded, “We recognize how difficult these current market conditions are for all of our shareholders, and I would like to express our deep appreciation for their continued support under the circumstances. Our board and management team own substantial equity in the Company and are strongly committed to work diligently on building shareholder value.
About Monaker Group
Monaker Group, Inc., is a technology-driven travel company focused on delivering innovation to the alternative lodging rental (ALR) market. The proprietary Monaker Booking Engine (MBE) provides access to more than 2.6 million instantly bookable vacation rental homes, villas, chalets, apartments, condos, resort residences, and castles. The MBE offers travel distributors and agencies an industry first: a customizable, instant-booking platform for alternative lodging rental. For more about Monaker Group, visit www.monakergroup.com and follow on twitter @MonakerGroup
Important Cautions Regarding Forward Looking Statements
This press release may include “forward-looking statements” which are subject to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements give our current expectations, opinions, belief or forecasts of future events and performance. A statement identified by the use of forward-looking words including “will,” “may,” “expects,” “projects,” “anticipates,” “plans,” “believes,” “estimate,” “should,” and certain of the other foregoing statements may be deemed forward-looking statements. Although Monaker believes that the expectations reflected in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, these statements involve risks and uncertainties that may cause actual future activities and results to be materially different from those suggested or described in this news release. All forward-looking statements are expressly qualified in their entirety by the “Risk Factors” and other cautionary statements included in Monaker’s annual, quarterly and current reports, proxy statements and other public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), including, but not limited to, the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the period ended February 28, 2019 and the company’s subsequently filed Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q, which have been filed with the SEC and are available at www.sec.gov. Investors are cautioned that any forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected. The forward-looking statements in this press release are made as of the date hereof. The company takes no obligation to update or correct its own forward-looking statements, except as required by law, or those prepared by third parties that are not paid for by the company.