Is Business Travel Worth it?

By Lloyd Graff

Hydromat has its Oktober Fest Open House in St. Louis coming up next week. The Precision Machined Products Association (PMPA) has its annual meeting this weekend in Hawaii. The Machinery Dealers National Association (MDNA) has their bi-annual Weekend With The Pros starting Friday. It’s time to get together and schmooze. These are extremely valuable get-togethers, especially in the time of Web ascendance which turns us all into iPad zombies. I do think the PMPA Hawaii con fab is too out of the way. Maybe they should do Winnipeg next year.

The industrial auctioneers would love to do most of their sales online, but the sad fact for them is that used machines are not generic. They vary greatly in wear and tear and filth. It takes a human eye to make an intelligent call. But despite that, many people shun the travel, even for expensive equipment they need. In some cases auctioneers grant a 3% discount to people who trek to the sale and eliminate Bidspotter’s cut.

Perhaps a 5% advantage for attendees would make sense for all because of the cost of travel and the greater likelihood that an onsite bidder will push the price higher because of the social pressure of the crowds, and the skillful prodding of the auctioneer.

I am a believer in personal relationships and business travel. They are increasingly expensive and physically demanding, but the Web is still a hollow vehicle for developing trust. Hawaii may be a stretch, at least for me, but pressing the flesh is still vital in building a business.


Tipping is one of those modern practices that always poses decisions I’d rather not make. I find myself avoiding haircuts because I never know what to tip my female barber, who owns her own one-person shop. Over the years we’ve become more conversant, usually about sports, but occasionally about her personal life. Her divorce, and her stepson going into the Marine Corps are now open topics and I tend to tip her more than I used to when we barely said two words. But I’m clueless about the etiquette of tipping a proprietor of a small business. The old convention was you don’t tip the owner, but that seems unfair in a one-person shop.

Tipping came up for me when I read that Danny Meyer, the famed New York restaurant owner, is now experimenting with a no tipping policy in his restaurants including , which is spreading over the country. Tipping is a staple of the waitstaff, but it discriminates against the cooks that keep the establishments running. There is a Federal law against tip sharing so it makes the whole situation quite tricky for an owner. Meyer is a very shrewd businessman. He had meetings with the staff of his restaurants to develop consensus.

I think fast food joints have an advantage over old school places because there is usually no significant tipping. For convenience I prefer not tipping, but I think a person who delivers extraordinary service deserves extra.

I remember my Dad had a unique approach to tipping, especially when we went to Miami Beach when I was young. We would go to a great sandwich joint called The Rascal House where the lions would snake out the door at 5pm. When we finally sat down he would tip the waitress immediately. He said it was to ensure good service after the long wait. It perplexed me then, but today I can see a certain logic to it. It takes some of the decision making out of the end-of-meal tipping ritual and warms up the server to remember you amidst the restaurant chaos. What do you think about tipping or no tipping?


I have to say something about the Major League Baseball Playoffs and my Chicago Cubs.

I feel like I’ve waited for this team my whole life. I’ve suffered, and I mean SUFFERED, so long with terrible teams, dumb managers, lackadaisical players and bad karma. But it finally feels different. The Cubs may not win it all this year, but they really could, even should win this year, and be contenders for quite a while. Joe Maddon, the manager, is brilliant and articulate. I feel like he gives me a management lesson after every game that I can apply to my own business.

I am grateful. This team has brought me real honest joy. May it continue for eight more wins.

Question: What business travel is worth your time and why?

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11 thoughts on “Is Business Travel Worth it?

  1. Brent Knutson

    Congrats to you and your Cubbies Loyd! Its a long awaited success. I must admit, its a fun team with a great story. I find myself really pulling for them. Especially considering my beloved Twins laid an egg down the stretch…..again.

  2. John Bressoud

    Business travel, to see a customer? Always worthwhile. I don’t bother with conferences much. They are not much more than a tribal meeting. Depends how important is to look like one of the tribe.

  3. Terry Donovan

    Hi Lloyd,
    I for one don’t care for many visit from salesmen I very seldom will sell them as they will take up more of my time than I am willing to give.
    Tipping is something I do at restaurants and airports, cabs, taverns but not to owners whether it’s a barber or a guide , etc. they already charged me for what service they provide and made their buck, however someone working there and guide or cut my hair (lol) I will tip just not the owner.
    Lastly the Cubbies are tearing it up and I hope for you they go all the way.

  4. David

    Go Cubs except if the Mets win I am a little scared. I am not superstitious but Toronto, the Mets and the Cubs all contending? At least KC restored some order. If the Astros were in I might be moving off the grid.

    This New Yorker would love to see the Cubs win it all. A World Series at Wrigley would be a wonderful thing. I remember seeing Ernie B play when i was a kid. Too bad he isn’t around to see this team.

  5. JJM

    “Maybe they should do Winnipeg next year.”

    No. Not the Peg. Anywhere but the Peg. Land of two seasons – winter and black flies. I have friends up there and even they refer to it as Winter Peg.

    [Full Disclosure – I always have a blast in the Peg. Maybe I want to keep it as my little secret].

  6. Lloyd Graff

    David, thank you for bringing up the beloved Ernie Banks. I grew up with #14 at short and then first base. I patterned my own batting stance after his with the right elbow cocked and the bat pointing straight up. Ernie died before the season. A pity, because he would have absolutely adored this team, as I have. They played Ernie singing Take Me Out to the Ballgame for the 7th inning stretch Monday night but the national audience could not hear it.
    Mr. Cub, I truly miss your presence. Let’s play two.


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