Q+A: Taylor DeBord, Tafari Travel

Tafari Travel is an experiential vintage travel agency for the avant-garde traveler located right here in Dumbo. They create and facilitate amazing travel experiences for individuals and groups. Tafari Travel has a ton of great inspirations that you can see here on their Instagram.

We interviewed their office manager Taylor and asked her a little bit about the company.

Tell me a bit about Tafari Travel. What makes you different from other travel agencies?

Tafari Travel is a retail agency. Our clients are mainly leisure luxury clientele. We have our headquarters in Denver, Colorado in the Cherry Creek neighborhood. We have brick and mortar storefronts, so we’ve seen a lot of success with people coming into the office, having a cup of coffee, and talking about travel. In a way we’ve kind of become the neighborhood travel agency in Cherry Creek and so that’s our hope for Brooklyn is just to integrate into the community. Our clients tend to do a lot of luxury leisure travel, so we do a lot of different hotels and more adventurous detailed itineraries.

What is the history of Tafari Travel?

Leah M. Smith is the President and Founder. She started the agency a few years ago. It came from this idea that all these Gen X-ers were searching through all this information on the Internet and were super confused as where to go for their travel. So, she came up with this idea for a retail storefront with a super young, modern vibe in Denver and now in Brooklyn. We’re not a traditional office space at all. She wanted this storefront to be almost a kind of a community meeting place for drinks where you could open up the garage doors and enjoy this non-traditional space. In a sense we’re almost a WeWork for travel agents. Being a little more integrated in the community was the goal.

Why a brick and mortar storefront?

So many agencies are moving towards online only. There’s also now just so much information online that people get overwhelmed. So having a resource that could be trusted is the reason why we wanted to meet people face to face via community events and have the storefront.

Dumbo is amazing. There are so many community events and there’s such great community involvement from both the residents and from the people who work in the community.

What services does Tafari Travel offer?

We can do everything from a quick weekend trip to a hotel to a full comprehensive 14 day itinerary through South Africa. It’s really all encompassing. We have 90 agents, so we always have someone who specializes in wherever you’re going. We have a great wealth of knowledge and partners. We are also a Virtuoso affiliated agency, so we can offer great benefits like upgrade at time of arrival, $100 credit, breakfast, and more.  Being Virtuoso affiliated allows us with access to a consortium of the best of the best hotels and agencies and suppliers around the world. It has a collection of 14,000 properties that are high level beautiful experiential properties. Through Virtuoso we have access to those additional benefits. Oftentimes if you’re booking a hotel on your own, you’re going to see the same rates as us online, but with us you’re going to have the perks.

I know your focus is on emerging markets. What drew Tafari Travel’s focus towards that destination segment?

What we’ve found is that our clients are basically the people who had grown up traveling and their idea of a travel agency kind of surrounded around cruisers and the thought that people who are using travel agencies are also those who are cruising but our clients aren’t big cruisers. We sell a little bit of cruise but most of what we sell is very experiential travel. Destinations like Asia, South America, and Africa are more difficult to do on your own. We have partners on the ground there that can help us create comprehensive itineraries for our clients.

What is the Tafari Travel team excited about for summer?

We’re noticing some travel picks from our clients this year. We have a ton of clients traveling to Europe right now. So we have a lot of European travels going on. We also have a ton of domestic hotel getaways and long weekends. A lot of people are already starting to plan for festive next year in the fall. So doing quite a bit of Africa in November to January. Of course we have people taking advantage of the Caribbean and the beaches right now.

Does the Tafari Travel team have any current travel inspirations?

We always have lots of travel inspirations and we have a sheet of them in the office. People can always come swing by and we can share them. We are also featuring our inspirations and promotions on our Instagram. Right now, we have a bunch of promotions for Europe and quick hotel getaways around New York, like if you wanted to fly up to Cliff House in Maine, which is a beautiful property on the Atlantic Coast. We have clients flying down to the Miami area right now as well.

Taylor DeBord, Tafari Travel Office Manager
Taylor DeBord, Tafari Travel Office Manager

Why Dumbo?

If you look at the network of travel agencies in New York as a whole, there are a ton of agencies in Manhattan and not many in Brooklyn. Dumbo is such a tight-knit, engaged community so that was one reason to have the storefront here. Another reason is that we just really saw the need for an agency here. No one’s in Brooklyn. Everyone’s in Manhattan. There’s such a great community of well-educated, well-traveled families and individuals here that we saw the opportunity to be a great travel resource.

And how's it going so far?

Dumbo is amazing. There are so many community events and there’s such great community involvement from both the residents and from the people who work in the community. We’ve found great synergy with the businesses here. We’re hoping to start to do more events in the summer so that people can utilize the space and open up the garage doors on a nice day. We’ve participated in a couple of charity events and we do Dumbo Drop every year. We love doing charity work.

There’s such a great community of well-educated, well-traveled families and individuals here that we saw the opportunity to be a great travel resource.

What is your favorite place in Dumbo?

The team is very excited about Time Out Market and all of the restaurant options that the market will bring. As far as my favorite spot, I find myself at Sweetgreen more often than not.

Do you have anything you want to share with the Dumbo community?

We have an open door and we’d love for people to stop by! There’s no need to make an appointment but you can also email with questions or call. People can also come by and have a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and just talk about trips. We also have an amazing collection of brochures from suppliers all around the world just to get some ideas.

Learn more about Tafari Travel on their company website or check out their current Travel Inspirations on their  Instagram.