In the dynamic world of sustainable travel, Patricia Charla, the founder of the pioneering Sustainable Travel and Transportation Network (STTN), is a visionary leader. Our extensive conversation with Patricia not only illuminated the mission and values of STTN but also revealed the depth of her passion and strategic foresight in this transformative initiative
Q: Patricia, let’s delve into the genesis of STTN. Could you describe its mission and the inspiration behind it?
Patricia: “STTN is the culmination of my journey in sustainability, which began in earnest in 2001. The travel and tourism industry, particularly for smaller service providers, is often fragmented and lacks sustainable resources. STTN was born from a need to fill this gap, creating a network where connections are not just made but nurtured. We aim to foster meaningful changes in traveler behavior and sustainable management of travel, focusing on the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit.” As Patricia spoke, it became evident that STTN is more than a network; it’s a lifeline for those navigating the complex waters of sustainable travel. It’s about empowering every player in the industry, big or small, with the tools and knowledge to make sustainable choices.
Q: What are the core challenges STTN addresses in sustainable travel?
Patricia outlined STTN’s multifaceted role: “Beyond environmental sustainability, STTN is about implementing effective changes and providing testimony to these efforts. The network educates and equips businesses to make sustainable decisions efficiently, focusing on economic viability alongside environmental responsibility.”
Q: Could you share more about what inspired you to start STTN?
Reflecting on her inspiration, Patricia shared a poignant observation: “Major sustainability forums often overlook smaller travel service providers. STTN was my answer to this oversight, a way to equip these entities with the tools and knowledge they need to make a real impact. It’s about providing a platform for collaboration and ensuring that even the smallest players can contribute meaningfully to sustainability.”
Q: Who is the primary audience for STTN, and how do they benefit?
Patricia: “STTN primarily targets smaller buyers and sellers in the travel industry, particularly those in managed travel programs,” Patricia emphasized. “We provide an affordable program that allows these entities to articulate their sustainability efforts and improve their buying policies. It’s about creating a sustainable supply chain where buyers can find suppliers committed to more than just environmental sustainability.”
Q: How does STTN facilitate connections between sustainable companies?
Patricia’s vision for STTN includes creating a safe space for open conversations and necessary changes. “The network offers education through webinars, white papers, and foundational information. One of STTN’s key roles is translating global sustainability discussions into relevant information for the travel industry. The upcoming launch of a Slack channel and the planning of live events are just a few examples of how STTN is enhancing collaboration and networking.”
Q: With sustainability being a non-negotiable aspect today, what benefits do members gain from joining STTN?
“Joining STTN is essential for any company, regardless of size,” Patricia stressed. “Sustainability is no longer optional. STTN provides the tools to compete as a sustainable company, including policy resources, a glossary of terms, and assistance with carbon accounting and emissions tracking. No matter how small, every member is equipped to be a sustainable part of the larger supply chain.”
Q: What excites you about the future of STTN?
Looking ahead, Patricia shared her excitement about 2024, marking it as the year when STTN will fully unveil its potential. “The network is set to redefine sustainable travel and transportation with its content, collaborators, tools, and a better understanding of what people need. Planned events, podcasts with changemakers, and partnerships with certification programs are just the beginning.”
Patricia’s enthusiasm was palpable as she spoke about the future. “2024 excites me. It is the first full year of STTN’s public face, and I’m excited that everything is coming together. We have the content, the collaborators, the tools, ready for people to use, and a much better understanding of what people need and want.”
She continued, “We will be doing events. I don’t have the dates yet, but there will be a spring event. It’s a leadership/executive forum where buyers and sellers will come together and talk about what needs to be done and what they’re doing, creating information and connections.”
Patricia Charla’s vision for a more sustainable travel and transportation industry shone brightly in our conversation. Her work with STTN is shaping the present of pioneering sustainable travel and paving the way for a greener, more responsible future.