Clear generational differences exist when it comes to business traveler dining, payment and expensing options and according to first-of-its-kind research that delves into the psyche of the business diner, Millennials are more likely to dine on-the-go, while Boomers are most likely to wine and dine clients and Gen Xers typically dine in a group with colleagues.
Contrary to popular views that Millennials are often entitled or difficult employees, they are much more likely to have reservations about ordering extras such as room service (66 percent) or coffee and snacks (70 percent) while traveling as opposed to their Gen X or Boomer colleagues – even when their travel policy permits it.
When asked what diners can expense in their travel policies, 71 percent of respondents said client meals, 56 percent said group meals and 46 percent said alcoholic beverages. Additionally, 72 percent said they pay for meals with a corporate credit card.
“A one-size-fits-all approach often isn’t the answer when it comes to crafting travel policy,” said Jessica Collison, GBTA research director. “The research reveals that clear generational differences exist when it comes to preferences around dining out while traveling for work. For travel buyers considering a preferred dining program, it’s important to make sure the program you choose meets the needs of all of your travelers.”
“The research findings really highlight the significance of understanding the spectrum of travelers within an organization,” said Alison Galik, president of Dinova. “Travel managers are serving multiple generational groups, each with their own preferences. The more they can dial in on what makes for a good travel experience, on the opportunities for reducing employee stress and increasing job satisfaction – and then cater to and engage their travelers in those areas – the more effective their overall program will be. We believe dining is an area that absolutely fills this bill. Cultivating a successful preferred dining program can both serve a broad range of needs and help create an unforgettable travel experience.”
Technology & Dining
In today’s world, technology has become an essential part of how employees of all ages travel, but as digital natives, Millennials especially embrace technology and not surprisingly, are more willing to use the tools and technology made available to them through their travel programs. The research found that 63 percent of business travelers research where to dine prior to leaving for their trip.
When broken out generationally, Millennials are much more likely to use Uber Eats while Boomers prefer to search for the best-reviewed restaurants in the area and use Yelp. In fact, 63 percent of business travelers have dining related apps on their mobile phone. In the last year they used their device to search for local places to eat (54 percent), to make a reservation (47 percent) and to search social media for information about a restaurant (33 percent).
Eating healthy on the road has become front and center for business travelers, which is why the vast majority (77 percent) of business travelers consider it to be important when traveling. Additionally, 64 percent prefer healthier menu options and 43 percent want to see published nutritional facts. When ranking factors for choosing a restaurant on the road, three in 10 Millennials rank the nutritional value of the meal in their top two reasons.
Where Are Business Travelers Dining?
Dining is always on the mind of the road warrior, and the type of dining they do depends on the trip. The study found that in total, 64 percent of business travelers take their money to upscale casual restaurants, followed by fast casual (52 percent), fast food (34 percent) and finally, fine dining (29 percent).
Preferred Dining Programs
Similar to how companies have preferred airline, hotel or car rental vendors, a preferred dining program provides a list of policy approved restaurants for dining on official company business. Nearly 4 in 10 (38 percent) business travelers say their companies have a preferred dining program and a similar share (37 percent) are interested in having one.
Additionally, 74 percent say they would be more motivated to use a preferred program if they earned rewards. Interestingly, 75 percent of Millennials would be more likely to become a member if rewards points could be redeemed toward their favorite charity, compared to 61 percent of Gen Xers and 42 percent of Baby Boomers.
Download an infographic here with key highlights from the research. An Executive Summary is available exclusively to GBTA members by clicking here.