Insights Reveal Business Dining Trends that Restaurants Can Leverage To Drive Revenue
Have you ever wondered how much your business meals affect the overall dining market? Wonder no more! Concur teamed up with Table8 and dove into data from both restaurants and business travelers looking for insight into how the two marketplaces interact. It turns out that business dining is helping fuel a rise in restaurant revenue. The analysis also sheds light on business dining trends – information that restaurants can use to targeting business diners and drive revenue growth. Table8 is primarily backed by the Concur Perfect Trip Fund, and offers patrons exclusive last minute access to sold-out restaurant reservations.
To set the stage, the National Restaurant Association notes that total restaurant sales hit a record high in October 2014 and sales are likely to continue rising in the coming months. Business dining, a key driver for restaurant revenue, is expected to contribute significantly to this uptrend.
The following are some things for both restaurants and business travelers to consider:
- Business Dining Is a Bright Spot in Overall Dining Sales: While overall dining sales in the US grew approximately 1.4% from Q1 2013 to Q1 2014, Concur studied the dining habits of its business users and found that frequent business diners increased their dining spend by six percent within the same period. This business dining spend represents a variety of expense types including meals while traveling, client meetings and team outings.
- Business Dining Is A Top Employee Expense: Notably, since 2011, business dining has averaged a five percent increase year-over-year – indicating that business dining continues to be a top expense for employees. Business dining spend is growing at a faster rate than leisure dining, and that’s similar to the accelerated growth seen in corporate air, hotel and ground transportation spend.
- Busiest Business Dining Days Balance Revenue for Restaurants: Business diners are most active Tuesdays through Thursdays, and Wednesdays are consistently the busiest day of the week for business dining. Reservation data from Table8 shows that leisure dining peaks on Fridays and Saturdays. Restaurants that can effectively target business diners can have a more consistent flow of patrons throughout the week.
- Best Cities for Business Dining: Among the 25 million Concur users, New York City, Chicago and San Francisco were the top three business dining cities by total spend for the 12-month period from August 2013.
- Most Extravagant Business Diners: Within the same 12-month period, the most generous business spenders were found in New York ($152 per dining check); Boston ($121 per dining check); Miami ($120 per dining check); Chicago ($118 per dining check); San Francisco ($117 per dining check).
- When More Is Less: Interestingly, in the last 12 months, business users from technology companies transacted most frequently (about 5 times per person), but spent the second lowest in business dining, at $84 per check. During the same timeframe, financial company employees transacted less frequently (about 3 times per person), but spent the most in business dining, at $123 per check.
So what are we to make of this information?
“Business dining is big business, especially right now, as our data shows. From our Expense IQ Report of last year, dining ranked as the third largest spend category for companies in the US, trailing only airfare and lodging,” said Brian Camposano, Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy, Concur. “With business travel predicted to rise in 2015, we expect to see overall corporate expenditure – especially for business dining – go up as well.”
For restaurants, these insights present opportunities to pursue business diners. “Our restaurant partners tell us that business diners typically spend up to 2-3 times more than the average social diner,” said Table8 CEO Peter Goettner. “Restaurants that recognize the importance of business diners can devise smart marketing strategies to attract more business diners through their doors and increase margins on days of the week where they typically see lower traffic from the social diner.”
"Business dining is critical to the success of the Lark Creek restaurants,” noted Quinn McKenna, Senior Vice President Operations for Lark Creek Restaurant Group. "Building strong relationships with local diners fills seats on the weekends and holidays, while business diners keep us busy for lunch and mid-week dinners. At our 15 restaurants, we find that business diners spend more per person and dine in larger groups."
“Business travelers’ tastes and focus on quality and diversity of venues has evolved significantly,” said Ahmass Fakahany, CEO & Owner of the Altamarea Group and Table8 Advisor. “It is no longer only about a basic business meeting in a restaurant; it is now about dining in the right setting, enjoying quality food, and receiving high client attention simultaneously.”
 Calculated from quarterly sales figures taken from the National Restaurant Association’s “total eating and drinking place sales” charts