Home TTJ Spotlight Interviews The Ark Travel Group- Pioneers in the art of selling cruises

The Ark Travel Group- Pioneers in the art of selling cruises

Kishan Biyani, Managing Director, ARK Travel Group

Kishan Biyani, Managing Director, ARK Travel Group (ATG), has been instrumental in ATG attaining the pinnacle of glory and achieving the position of the largest cruise distributor in the country today.

– Prashant Nayak

Whilst pioneering promotion of cruises has been a colossal achievement of the Ark Travel Group, it has simultaneously voyaged to popularise the concept of cruise vacations in the India market. Today, ATG is one of India’s leading B2B cruise and luxury resort consolidators today. The company has now anchored its position in India as ARK Cruises. Their cumulative experience that spans over two decades has endowed them with a unique and in-depth insight into the industry of cruising.

Kishan Biyani is renowned in the industry for his passion for cruises and is admired for his selling skills and excellent interpersonal relationships. His passion percolates down to the people working at ATG at all levels. It is this passion, know-how, and understanding that makes the company more of a travel partner than a booking agent. Their cruise portfolio is extensive, and they present a multitude of befitting offers of cruise options to fit every budget type, holiday type, and geography.

“As we grow and soar, we have expanded our portfolio of cruise products as well. We are currently marketing Resort World Cruises, NCL, MSC, Holland America, Cordelia, Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Silver Seas, Disney World Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Uniworld River Cruises, and Croisi River Cruises, to name a few prominent ones,” shares Kishan.

Kishan says that over the years of selling cruise business, it has been significantly interesting to observe the maturity of the traveller over the last few years. From shorter cruises to longer ones, from Southeast Asia to Europe and Alaska, and from leisure to adventure, the scope for growth has been illimitable. He points out, “We are a growing market for outbound tourism, where sky is the limit.”

With a variety of cruising options, Indians take an interest in every kind of cruise action. Oceans, rivers, and expeditions all offer equal charm and promises. Kishan says, “It all depends on one’s personal bent of mind, as options available to the seeker are in plenty today. Preferences of Indians tilt towards state-of-the-art facilities on board the ship and bigger, newer vessels, especially if the demographics are those of young and happening travellers. Clients today are asking for facilities and amenities on board, which was not the case till a few years back. We have seen an upward trend for expedition cruises.”

For ATG, the major challenge while booking cruises for the Indian market is currently visa issuance. A visa is a pre-requisite for any travel plans. The demand for US and Alaska cruises saw a steep decline as no visa slots were available. Schengen visas, too, are seeing a much longer waiting period. “I wish VFS could iron out these issues so that the overall business can grow in a constructive manner,” opines Kishan.

MICE on cruises is one stronghold of ATG. Well before the pandemic, they had introduced a concept of all-inclusive entertainment titled ‘BIG BANG NAUTICAL FIESTA’, targeting the larger Indian corporate houses. The cruising events on ships like Genting Dream were planned to educate the travel agents by giving them first-hand experience of the ship. The events were to highlight how different experiences like neon parties, live band performances, and gala nights could be created to attract different segments of travellers like FITs, MICE, and wedding groups.

“MICE is a very important segment for cruises, as this adds to the total volume of business for any liner. Corporates today are on the lookout for a varied experience, and what is better than an inclusive, carefree, yet comprehensive incentive on a cruise liner? Every bit is taken care of, be it food, entertainment, meetings, or nightlife—all in one single venue,” mentions Kishan. ATG believes that technology plays an important role in the travel industry. For that, they have Deckpro by Arktech, a B2B cruise booking platform that has brought most of the cruise lines into their booking system so that it is easy for the travel agent to book online.

The travel industry is now as rocking as it was before the pandemic, but there still remains a lot to forge ahead. “We are here to grow as the economy is ameliorating, and from what we fathom, there are aspirations to travel and explore the world. I can only see an upward trend for all segments, including cruises,” concludes Kishan.