Getting to one of the world’s most remote copper and gold mines is no ordinary business trip. But crews do it every day.
About 200 workers for a global engineering company in the energy, resources and marine (ERM) sector travel year round from nearly two dozen countries to southern Mongolia, where the mine is being built not far from the Gobi Desert.
The operation is 24/7/365—when the sun is bearing down in summer and when temperatures drop well below freezing in winter.
“We’re all doing it for four-week shifts, then for two-week breaks. It’s a challenging place to get to, and it’s a challenging place to work,” said one of those extreme commuters. He also happens to be the person overseeing corporate travel for himself and his co-workers. His own journey takes 20 hours from his home in Australia to the mine. “We’re always looking for that balance between meeting what travelers want and maximizing our value.”
Setting up complex ERM travel on a tight timeline
When the engineering company signed on as a subcontractor for the mine project, its corporate travel team immediately began looking for a travel management company that could handle the complexities of ERM travel.
Beyond having access to specialty industry fares, the TMC would need to adapt to last-minute travel changes; adhere to billing requirements unique to the project; and help the company meet duty of care requirements. It would have to manage flights and accommodations for thousands of international trips a year.
Plus, the chosen TMC would have to go live on a very aggressive timeline. The engineering company chose BCD Travel, which already was a partner on other projects.
4-week implementation yields quick results
The company handles engineering, procurement and construction management (EPCM) for the mine. It oversees everything from building housing and water treatment facilities for workers to constructing extraction systems that carry valuable metals up from the earth. It does this work on behalf of a corporate investor in the mine and must follow the investor’s travel policy, duty of care and billing requirements.
Because of that structure, BCD’s service had to be set up separately from service it already provided to the engineering company for other projects. And because every moment meant money, the implementation had to happen fast.
BCD’s team in Australia took the lead and condensed what is usually a 12-week implementation down to four weeks, during which BCD:
- Helped establish new agreements with airlines and hotels in a location with very limited supplier service
- Set up BCD’s DecisionSource® program management platform for data collection and analysis, enabling the engineering company to gain insights about travel spend and capture spend volume for future negotiations with suppliers
- Established BCD’s TripSource® traveler platform to simplify itinerary management and enable mobile messages that provide relevant supplier and safety information to travelers
- Connected program data to a third-party emergency-response supplier to make it easier to get to travelers in need, no matter their location
- Customized SAP Concur’s online booking tool to fit specifications for the mine project and integrate with DecisionSource and TripSource
- Set up 24/7 agent availability to assist travelers all over the world with trip arrangements and changes
More a partner than a vendor
Over the past two years, workers have logged more than 16.7 million travel miles to and from the mine, equivalent to 35 round-trip journeys to the moon. The travel coordinator describes BCD’s agent team as “invaluable.” He said the engineering company’s travelers also like how TripSource helps them manage complex itineraries, receive essential trip alerts and get program information and support from anywhere.
He considers BCD more a partner than a vendor. “Whenever we have a question or request, BCD takes it onboard. They follow through on everything, and they provide consultative service—both the agents and our BCD account management team. They’re not just order takers.”
Service that ‘always rises to the occasion’
The engineering company is pleased with BCD’s work, and so is its client—the mine investor. “BCD adapts to travel changes related to increases in scope of work. They accommodate our client’s requirements,” he said. “At the beginning, our client wanted to approve all travel; now they understand that’s not necessary. They trust the shared work ethic and transparency of our company and BCD.
“We need a travel management company and agent team that can manage our global travel needs and respond to our urgent, last-minute requirements,” he said. “BCD Travel always rises to the occasion.”