Rio Tinto CEO Sam Walsh got some attention last month when he said the multinational mining company would cut trips to save money. According to a press official, Walsh "was challenging everyone in the organization to remain focused on costs and that included reducing travel. He asked everyone to consider if that journey, visit or conference is essential and look for alternative ways to conduct our business."

Such declarations raise questions with which travel management has always struggled. How effective are commandments from on high? Is the top-down, macro view of travel spending the appropriate one? Is corporate travel . . .

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