Attracting this lucrative segment can drive strong sales results.

With rising costs and industry-wide drops in guest traffic, today’s restaurants must fight for every sale. Yet 76 percent of restaurants have no official strategy for attracting an important customer base still driving large sales: business diners.

Restaurants that work to attract these kinds of diners have the potential to build a strong and lasting revenue stream, but only if they meet the needs of these customers. To better understand these diners, Dinova, a company that connects restaurants with corporate diners, partnered with the Global Business Travel Association to learn what these diners are expensing, how they pay, who they eat with, what kinds of food they eat, and more.

Of the $424 billion spent on business travel in the U.S. in 2016, $77 billion was generated by business dining. “Our data shows that employees dining on official company business are still spending money at restaurants despite the economic downturn,” says Shannon Delaney, vice president of marketing at Dinova. “Why? Because it’s not their money.”

Interestingly, 63 percent of travelers reported that they researched their destinations’ restaurant options prior to taking business trips. Combined with the finding that 49 percent of respondents’ employers required their travelers to adhere to mandated policies means that restaurants need to appeal to both employees’ palates and employers’ policies in order to attract this profitable set of geographically widespread customers—who also aren’t reachable through traditional local marketing tactics.

This doesn’t mean that these diners are unattainable or that all business dining takes place at white tablecloth restaurants. Company travel policies tend to recognize the real need for dining options at a range of price points and dining styles. According to Dinova’s business dining research, 51 percent of millennials report fast food as the type of meals they most frequently purchase while traveling, 51 percent of Gen Xers most often choose fast-casual options, and 79 percent of Boomers identify upscale casual as their business meal of choice.

Because getting green-lighted into multiple companies’ travel policies can be an overwhelming task that takes restaurants’ focus away from what they do best (serving great food and creating a great experience), many brands have turned to partners that are uniquely equipped to do the networking for them.

“Reaching corporate cardholders isn’t easy—it’s time consuming, expensive, and nearly impossible to reach the right person without understanding the unique private and proprietary channels corporate enterprises use to communicate to employees,” Delaney says. “Dinova’s team of experts come from the business travel industry and know how to unlock access to Fortune 1000 companies and profitable business diners.”

Since this company has contractual relationships to manage the preferred dining options for employees of more than 300 global corporations, it unlocks access to corporate gate keepers for some of the biggest companies in the U.S.

“Dinova has provided an innovative marketplace that gives restaurants across the U.S. access to an extremely valuable dining segment,” Delaney says. “Our restaurant partners know that the connections made over a business meal drive understanding and create shared perspectives that establish lifelong relationships.”

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