Corporate travellers prefer company when dining, and want to ‘eat like a local’ 

Dining is probably one of the most important experiences in corporate travel, and at USD77 billion annually, business dining is one of the largest travel spend categories. Until now, little has been done to understand business diners and how they spend company money, but recent research by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and partner Dinvoa has found most corporate travellers take their business to upscale restaurants.


Summary:

  • Dining is probably one of the most important experiences in corporate travel and business dining is one of the largest travel spend categories worth USD77 billion annually;
  • Research by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and partner Dinvoa has found most corporate travellers take their business to upscale restaurants;
  • The findings show most corporate road warriors unsurprisingly seek the company of others when dining for business travel – either clients, co-workers or friends.
  • The use of technology opens the door to dining being better integrated into travel programmes.

The study examined the psyche of the business diner, and the research showed 64% of those travellers opt for upscale casual restaurants followed by fast casual at 52%. Fast food represented a 32% share of corporate traveller dining and fine dining had the smallest share at 20%.

Most corporate road warriors unsurprisingly seek the company of others when dining for business travel. GBTA and Dinova found 30% reported eating lunch with clients, with an additional 23% dining with co-workers. For dinner, those stats jump to 40% and 26%, respectively.

GBTA and Dinova also conducted a Twitter chat in which respondents stated a desire to eat like a local, and shared the top five tips for the local dining experience:

  • Ask cab or car drivers about spots where they would take their families to eat – not where they tell other travellers to go;
  • Search “best places to eat in ____” as a start. Use websites like Thrillist to find the best spots to eat;
  • Ask people in the hotel about the places they actually eat at;
  • If meeting with a client, ask them about the best local place;
  • Ask friends in the area.

The Blue Swan Daily has previously reported that the same GBTA and Dinova study found that 51% of Millennials eat fast food while travelling, while 51% of GenXers prefer fast casual dining. Boomers, meanwhile, tilt toward upscale causal dining at 79%.

As part of the recent research study, GBTA asked business travellers what dining apps they use when on the road for work trips. The most popular were Yelp, TripAdvisor, Grubhub, OpenTable and Uber Eats.

The study also explored generational differences when it comes to technology use and eating out while travelling for work. Not surprisingly, Millennials especially embrace technology and are more willing to use the tools and technology made available to them through their travel programmes, but technology has also become an essential part of how employees of all ages travel.

The use of technology opens the door to dining being better integrated into travel programmes. The GBTA and Dinova research found that 60% of respondents said their organisations do not have any dining programme at all, but 74% would be motivated to participate in one if they earned rewards for themselves or for the company.

Clearly, this highlights a huge opportunity for companies to capture employee attention and engagement with a preferred dining programme. Corporate managers negotiate advantageous contracts with airlines, hotel groups, rental car providers so why not add restaurants too?