Younger business diners can help drive traffic and elevate ticket costs.

Sponsored by Dinova.

Business dining—including travel meals, private dining events, and catering—represents $100 billion in annual U.S. restaurant sales. With millennials projected to make up 75 percent of the workforce by 2025, quick-service restaurants in particular should ensure they’re taking the necessary steps to attract this lucrative set of business diners.

According to research conducted last year by the Global Business Travel Association and Dinova, millennials choose quick-service restaurants (51 percent) and fast-casual concepts (63 percent) for on-the-road business meals—far exceeding the preferences of their Baby Boomer and Gen X counterparts for business travel meals in the quick-service space.

“For this generation, it’s often about making the most of their work day,” says Shannon Delaney, vice president of marketing for Dinova, whose total business dining solution includes a company-endorsed preferred restaurant network. “Millennials are making choices that keep them productive, efficient, and focused on their hustle.”

Operators who want to attract millennial business diners into their restaurants must ensure they are discoverable—through social media, mobile apps, and any company-supplied dining resources—and also that they’re promoting the messages that millennials care about most.

“Rather than aging into the traditional, seated dining habits of their predecessors, younger business diners are setting new trends,” Delaney says. “Millennials are choosing restaurants that accommodate their preferences and support their mealtime goals.”

For example, while a majority of business diners say that healthy business dining options are either “very important” or “somewhat important,” millennials are more likely than older demographics to have special dietary needs—40 percent report health-related or cause-based restrictions, such as being gluten-free or vegetarian.

“Millennials place a high priority on their food in relation to how they self-identify,” Delaney says. “Operators definitely need to highlight their healthy options and practices, as well as any causes they support. The more restaurants can market this information, the more they can tap into millennials’ personal and professional values, enabling their influencer tendencies to drive even more traffic to your business.”

In addition to health requirements and preferences, traveling millennial business diners are also interested in dining at restaurants that offer unique environments for business opportunities, are popular with the locals, or offer foods that are specific to the travel destination—such as pierogies in Chicago or cheesesteaks in Philadelphia.

“The value that social media plays to a millennial business diner cannot be understated,” Delaney says. “They’re professional, but they’re also on the lookout for opportunities to combine business and leisure. There’s a tremendous amount of pre-trip research being done using social media, and this generation uses their mobile devices to share information and crowd-source decision-making.”

Making sure that social content and restaurant reviews include business dining-related appeal can only help boost restaurants’ ability to be found online by this robust group of business diners – leading to a bump in traffic and higher average tickets.

By Erin McPherson

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