Study: Business Dining is Undermanaged

For the second consecutive year, Dinova, Inc., and The BTN Group have partnered on a joint industry research study, and today announced the results. Once again, the research finds that business dining is one of the more undermanaged areas of the corporate expense budget. Business dining spend historically has represented around 10 percent of overall annual T&E spend, but 44 percent of respondents indicated it represented 11 percent or more this year. This increase in spend offers the opportunity for significant cost savings efforts on the part of corporations nationwide.

According to the survey, 49 percent of respondents reported that his or her company spent $1 million or more on meals and entertainment in 2016. This number increased 9 percent over 2016 survey results. Despite the economic downturn in consumer spending, business dining continues to deliver high-margin guests to restaurants around the country. With the high amount of money rolling through corporate T&E on business dining spend, there’s an opening to better manage the expense.

The business dining expense comes in a variety of ways, including out-of-town travelers, marketing and events, client entertainment, internal business catering and private dining. When asked to choose all restaurant types that are most frequented by business employees eating on expense accounts:

  • 45 percent said fast casual
  • 26 percent said independent restaurants
  • 18 percent said chain-dining establishments
  • 15 percent said quick-service restaurants

When asked what percentage of meals and dining expenditures occur in employees’ home market(s) versus business travel, only 10% of respondents indicated that 50% or more meal expenses are at home while 24% indicate less than 10% of meal spend is in home markets.

Similar to last year, 46 percent of respondents reported they have yet to focus on dining spend as an area of savings significance. And when it came to how often meal expenditures are reported to management:

  • 42 percent said as requested by management
  • 27 percent said monthly
  • 16 percent said quarterly
  • 7 percent said annually
  • 18 percent said never

“Despite consumer traffic softening in the first quarter of 2017, business dining has increased year-over-year from 2015 to 2016, which makes it advantageous for travel managers to reclaim a portion of the overall company dining spend,” says Vic Macchio, founder and CEO at Dinova. “We estimate business dining spend in the U.S. to be around $60 billion annually, and the ability to manage this spend is critical in overall T&E savings.”

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