Thinking ‘out of the box’ has become more important than ever in corporate travel

Barrick Gold Corporation is an ambitious multinational gold mining business with gold and copper mining operations and projects in 13 countries in North and South America, Africa, Oceania (Papua New Guinea) and the Middle East (Saudi Arabia). The company’s diversified portfolio spans many of the world’s prolific gold districts and is focused on high-margin, long-life assets.

Corporate travel is a necessity for a company like Barrick, even when the world is in lockdown as a result of COVID-19, and all air travel has been halted. Pascale Bartholome, title, found herself organising charter flights and negotiating border access for her travellers. “We simply had to work out ways to get people moving again. In the mining industry, the simple fact is that rotation staff needs to be on-site. Getting people into and out of South Africa was difficult, but not impossible. You have to be very inventive, pushy and still polite,” she laughs.

Bartholome expects the same ingenuity and ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking from her travel management company (TMC). “The mining industry is volatile. A traveller might be thinking he or she is going home, but then something breaks on-site, and they need to stay. Travel plans change continuously, and a TMC needs to be attuned to that,” she explains.

COVID-19 has added an extra layer of complexity to an already difficult industry. “You need to think on your feet. You might have found a solution to a problem, but the next day – or the next hour – some government somewhere changes a rule, and you must start over. It’s important that your TMC can advise you and keep you up-to-date on a country’s changing processes and regulations when it comes to COVID-19.”

Barrick moved its travel management to Corporate Traveller when they felt they had outgrown their previous travel agent. “The company developed quite fast, and we were looking for specific requirements: we needed a global company with a reliable after-hours service who could also streamline our approval processes,” says Bartholome.

Under Corporate Traveller’s guidance, the Barrick travel programme evolved from a local to a global programme with much broader access to corporate rates and a seamless approval process flow. A new after-hours service was introduced, and a dedicated Corporate Travel consultant was assigned to work with the Barrick team at their offices in Johannesburg.

Travel requirements are varied and complex at Barrick: the management team has very different travel requirements than the rotation staff on the mines who need to travel back to Australia or New Zealand regularly. Also, the company often uses contractors who fly in from across the world.

“Before joining Corporate Traveller, all the approvals were done by phone or by e-mail. It was not uncommon to have 70-page mails for one travel arrangement. That has all been streamlined,” says Bartholome. “All our approvals are now done electronically. It is a huge burden off my shoulders.”

Although Bartholome can rarely opt for the ‘cheapest’ fare, she explains Corporate Traveller has allowed Barrick to achieve significant time and budget savings. “Since the mining industry is so volatile, the most affordable fare is usually not an option. However, the Corporate Traveller team is very hands-on with suggesting the best options for an itinerary, as well as identifying potential mistakes travellers have made with the online booking tool, she says, adding that the most significant savings come in the form of time efficiencies.

“Corporate Traveller has really impressed me in the way they turn around bookings on short notice. Although their promise is 24 hours, they have often been able to help turn around bookings in 25 minutes,” says Bartholome. “They’re a true travel partner who actively think about the best possible solutions and budget options for our company. They always try and find a solution to our problems. I appreciate that.”

To find out more about Barrick visit