Some advisors are made. Others are born. Kota Tabuchi falls into the latter category. The trendsetter with Travel Beyond specializes in experiential safaris. He’s sold them for 11 years, the past six with Travel Beyond. His annual sales are just shy of $1.6 million.
Tabuchi was born and raised in Tokyo and moved to the Bay Area in California while in elementary school.
“I spent my youth growing up outside, spending time exploring open spaces. I attended university in Lugano, Switzerland, where my love for exploration and travel flourished. I now reside near Berkeley, CA with my wife, three children and two dogs,” says Tabuchi.
While in university, Tabuchi traveled to Botswana through an Academic Travel program.
“It was a participatory trip where my skills in setting up camp, cooking over campfires and fixing cars came in handy. I ended up working for this overland company when I finished school. That was 15 years ago. I’ve gone from being in the field to now working as a travel advisor and in operations and management,” says Tabuchi.
Tabuchi’s expertise is arranging safaris that take place outside of vehicles. He sees walking, canoeing, horseback riding and the like as more of a “pure” safari experience.
And, he has the chops to back it up.
“I’ve walked over 500 miles in National Parks and private conservancies across Africa, climbed Kilimanjaro and trekked mountain gorillas as well as chimps. I value the ‘human’ element of safari by having a curated list of guides, camp hosts and product that offers a genuine cultural experience,” says Tabuchi.
It’s important to distinguish a safari from a “wildlife trip,” says Tabuchi.
“Safari, by definition, is a journey. One that will often change one’s life and perspective. A wildlife trip is more of a passive viewing of wildlife. I specialize in the former, not the latter,” he notes.
Though he sometimes pushes the boundaries of clients’ comfort zones, they’re appreciative in the end.
“I’ve worked with everyone from high-profile clients in the business and entertainment industries to passionate leisure travelers. In addition to independent travelers, I work with Zoological Societies and educational institutions,” says Tabuchi.
He credits his boss, Craig Beal, as well as his coworkers, for his success.
“I have an incredible team, the most knowledgeable in the industry. We keep each other sharp and current. There’s a tremendous sense of camaraderie and family as well. We don’t own anything in Africa and have no bias, as we are non-commissioned / salaried employees,” says Tabuchi.
In-person client meetings are Tabuchi’s main source of business. He’s also active on online forums (TripAdvisor and Fodor’s) to increase his visibility.
And he keeps up-to-date on product. Last year, he spent 28 days in Botswana checking out high-end camps and lodges and training new consultants.
“We all enjoyed the luxury mobile safari with Uncharted Africa / Natural Selection,” says Tabuchi.
With such an exciting practice, his downtime is equally dizzying.
“I am a self-proclaimed food geek, car enthusiast and kickboxer,” says Tabuchi.
But, the adventures his raves about the most are with his kids.
“We spend time biking, hiking, rock climbing and camping. Fatherhood is the most incredible journey thus far,” he says.