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Research Study Takes a Fresh Look at Corporate Meal Expense Management

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ATLANTA — Dinova LLC, along with The BTN Group, announced today the results of a new industry research study. The study shows that business dining is one of the more undermanaged areas of the corporate expense budget. The business dining spend represents roughly 10 percent of the average annual T&E spend, which offers the opportunity for significant cost savings efforts on the part of corporations nationwide.

According to the survey, 40 percent of respondents reported that his or her company spent $1 million or more on meals and entertainment in 2015. With the high amount of money rolling through corporate T&E on business dining spend, there’s an opening to better manage the expense.

Despite economic conditions that show consumer dining spend has decreased or remained flat, 39 percent of travel managers responding to this survey indicated that their business dining spend had increased in 2015. Forty-one percent of respondents said the increase in business dining spend was due to more volume of business meals purchased. And 19 percent of respondents also noted among buying trends, increased use of catering or large group carry-in orders.

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 which restaurants are most frequented by business employees eating on expense accounts:

  • 33 percent said fast-casual
  • 34 percent said independent restaurants
  • 16 percent said chain-dining establishments
  • 14 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 percent of respondents indicated that 50 percent or more meal expenses are at home while 29 percent indicate less than 10 percent of meal spend is in home markets.  In fact, 55 percent reported that the increase of travel to new destinations was one of the contributing factors for increased business dining spend.

Curiously, more than half of the organization’s 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:

  • 39 percent said as requested by management
  • 33 percent said monthly
  • 14 percent said quarterly
  • 6 percent said annually
  • 20 percent said never

“With 80 percent of respondents indicating business dining expenses within their organization are reported to senior management, it’s advantageous for travel managers to reclaim a portion of the overall company dining spend,” said Vic Macchio Founder and CEO at Dinova. “We estimate the business dining spend to be around $60 billion, and the ability to manage this spend is critical in overall T&E savings. It’s found money!”

“The research illustrates that far too many corporations are missing opportunities for quantifiable savings on business dining expenses, given that 52 percent of respondents haven’t taken steps in the past two years to better manage this area and nearly a quarter couldn’t identify whether their 2015 costs had changed from 2014,” said Louis Magliaro, The BTN Group vice president and group publisher. “Leading companies are trying some very innovative tactics and we look forward to sharing more insights with our audience as this area matures.”

PR Newswire contributed to this report.