Remote Business Travel – A Safety Net for Your Adventure
Known for its troubled history and its inimitable temples, Cambodia was long considered a place for only the most adventurous — Indiana Jones went there, as did Lara Croft. But in the last two decades, Cambodian tourism has risen steadily, with nearly 2.5 million people crossing the threshold of the Angkor Wat temple complex every year. The rest of the country, however, remains remote.
Off the Beaten Path
About 8 hours’ drive from Angkor Wat, along the Laotian border, is the district of Siem Pang. With a population of about 13,000, the area is dotted with tiny villages made of wooden houses. Here, there is very little electricity and no running water. Roosters and water buffalo wander free, and the villagers hunt for frogs to eat, and bathe in the nearby Tonle Kong river – a tributary of the Mekong. It sounds picturesque, but life remains difficult for those who live there.
Which is why Sophie, a Corporate Social Responsibility coordinator for a mid-sized manufacturing company, found herself on the back of a truck, examining her dusty feet as she was led to visit the irrigation infrastructure her company had sponsored in the region.
In such a remote region, Sophie might have been concerned about her safety. But before leaving home, she had set up a mobile application called Travel Navigator™ on her phone that allowed her direct contact with the office from anywhere – it was her lifeline as she rode into the unknown.
Not your Average Business Trip
Sophie had been working on this project for months. She had communicated regularly with the NGO on the ground to establish the needs of the village and wrote frequent updates for the corporate newsletter.
“It was my favourite part of my job,” says Sophie. “I really felt like we were giving back.” When the opportunity came to visit the project in person, Sophie jumped at the chance.
Knowing the area was remote, Sophie picked up some extra gear – bug spray, water purification tablets, and a solar charger for her phone. She also consulted with the Human Resources manager, Phil, to help her determine if she needed any immunizations.
While examining the details of international health coverage, Phil reminded Sophie about Travel Navigator™, a product included in their corporate package that provided useful information about potential health risks in the area.
“Our biggest concern was malaria,” says Phil. Cambodia is a known malaria-risk country, but the level of risk varies widely by area. And the risk changes from year to year – despite a generally decreasing trend, 2017 saw twice as many infections as 2016. “We found out that in dry season, the risk was fairly low in the northeast,” says Sophie, “so I decided not to take the anti-malarials.”
But Phil was surprised to discover a second concern – rabies. About 800 people die of rabies in Cambodia every year. “It’s deadly, and in a remote area like that, getting immediate care might be problematic,” says Phil, “so we recommended that Sophie get the shots, just in case.”
Solar charger in hand, Sophie was on her way.
Duty of Care – the Other Corporate Responsibility
Travel Navigator™ gave Sophie some peace of mind before she left, but it also helped Phil comply with the company’s duty of care responsibilities. “Even in a remote location, we needed to ensure that Sophie had a safe working environment,” says Phil.
The app’s online dashboard allowed Phil to track Sophie’s location throughout her trip. “I could contact someone at work with a touch of a button if there was an emergency,” says Sophie, “or they could check in on me.”
Never Too Careful
It was on the fourth day that Sophie began to feel feverish. Not wanting to take any risks, she decided to seek medical help, just to be cautious. But she was reticent to go to the local health centre, which she had seen on the drive in. “Let’s just say it didn’t look very – erm – reliable,” she laughs. “So I fired up the solar charger and checked in with the Travel Navigator™ app.”
The app gave her a list of regional health centres that would accept her benefits, and she was able to see a doctor that day. It was a false alarm, fortunately – she was just a bit dehydrated. “They gave me a saline IV for a couple of hours, and I was right as rain,” says Sophie.
She pauses, then adds, “In the dusty Cambodian dry season, right as rain is the best one can ask for.”
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