Name: Sutra Borgeson
Title: CEO/International Travel and Event Specialist
Organization: Creative Travel and Events
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Birthplace: Bamberg, Germany
• B.S. in Nursing 1994 Clark College
• B.S. in Environmental Studies 2004 University of Washington
• B.S. in Business Leadership 2011 Marylhurst University
• U.S. Navy, hospital corpsman and German translator, 1990-1994
• U.S. Army Reserve, practical nurse, 1994-1997
• Business coach and consultant, 2009-2015
• Creative Travel and Events, 2016-Present
Growing up in Germany, Sutra Borgeson spent spring break traveling to countries on the European continent, learning about other cultures and visiting historic sites instead of partying on the beach. Those trips helped develop her love of travel.
“Every year, we would go somewhere different — I always loved to travel,” said Borgeson. “I was inspired by my mom, who encouraged me to go into business for myself, having traveled all over the world.”
Borgeson went into the U.S. Navy, where she was a hospital corpsman, then earned a bachelor’s in nursing. While she loved working with people, she found herself drawn to helping small business owners launch and grow their businesses. So she started a consulting firm with that in mind. Along the way, she worked at events like travel trade shows, where a different type of business began to take shape.
“I found that so many people were asking me to help them plan a cruise or a trip to Disney, and that’s when Creative Travel and Events was born,” she said. “I can help people create the travel, trips, and special events of their dreams.”
Borgeson’s company logo — a winding road with a hot air balloon rising over a mountain peak in the distance — was inspired by a trip she took driving from Arizona to Utah, where she had seen such a scene in person. With that special experience, her thoughts culminated into what became the company’s tagline: “Let the experience inspire you.”
Borgeson strives to inspire those who have never been big travelers. She especially wants to inspire those with disabilities, who may be prone to avoid the complications of travel. As a disabled veteran herself, she is an accessibility specialist.
“Everyone should have the ability to travel, regardless of their situation,” she said. “So many people stay in their hometowns, and it has been an adventure to send people to see the wonders of the world. What I love is that on trips people develop a lot of camaraderie, and I love building relationships through community and culture. Smaller groups especially can be more intimate, and I am able to get to know them and add a more personal touch.”
Building relationships is not only one of Borgeson’s personal strengths but also her primary piece of advice to the people she mentors.
“Those relationships can be a lifesaver whenever you have issues,” she said. “One of the top reasons I go to trade shows is that I meet people. When you are networking in your community, you meet people who become advocates for you — you build those relationships, and people help you and you’re able to help them. While it may be scary for someone to go to those things for the first time, if you attend, you will have a whole new vision of travel and of your business.”
Borgeson especially likes traveling with a purpose and giving travelers on her trips the opportunity to connect with a local nonprofit organization and do something that makes a socio-economic impact on the place they’re visiting, such as bringing local kids school supplies or helping with a community gardening project. Along with that, her passion is to create bespoke experiences like a cooking class in a chef’s own home kitchen when visiting Italy.
“Don’t be afraid to get a little bit lost and find something new,” she says. “I love creating opportunities to connect people through community and through culture. Travel is an opportunity to soothe your soul and replenish your reserves, and I love being able to help people do that.”
Tips from Sutra Borgeson
• If you are not earning, you should be learning. Learn about destinations in person. Or if this isn’t possible, attend trade shows where you get to meet and connect with those in the industry. You are expected to be the subject matter expert so become one.
• Find a mentor if you are just starting. Working with a mentor can help you start earning income faster. Make sure the mentor you select has adequate time to work with you, and stay accountable.
• Build relationships. Get to know the sales team of hotels by attending trade shows and events. You never know when you may need to call them directly for an assist. And network!