Who is today’s business diner? Our new study is chock-full of great insights

What do business diners look like?

The truth is, it’s hard to say. With Millennials soon to make up  the majority of the workforce and rapid shifts in corporate culture, a business diner could be the 25-year-old in a hoodie grabbing a bite at the airport, or a suited-up professional wining and dining clients at a steakhouse.

While we’ve been able to pinpoint common misconceptions about the business diner, we wanted to take it a step further. Business dining is a $77 billion business in the U.S. making it the third largest T&E category, but little formal research has been done to understand the habits and preferences of business diners — until now.

To help participating companies make the most of Dinova, we partnered with Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) to conduct a detailed, first-of-its-kind survey of corporate card-holding professionals who travel for work. The result? Surprising insights into business travelers dining habits, technology use, and attitudes toward company expense policies.

As we dug into the research, we found some interesting facts that we weren’t expecting:


Generational differences in business dining

  • The longer the career, the larger the tab. Baby Boomers tend to look for upscale dining choices when they travel (79%), as opposed to most Millennials (51%) who opt for fast food.


  • Gen Xers are most likely to be part of a pack. About a third of Gen Xers said they typically had lunch or dinner with coworkers while on business. Millennials seem to prefer solo, on-the-go dining.
  • Millennials are less comfortable expensing extras. The majority (2 out of 3) said they hesitated to expense “extras” like coffee and snacks. That number was only 1 of 3 for Boomers, and 1 of 2 for Gen Xers.


How business diners use food & restaurant technology


  • Business diners have embraced mobile apps. The majority (63%) of diners we surveyed had dining-related apps on their mobile phones.
  • Yelp is the most popular app among business diners. 53% of business diners said they used the Yelp app. Others in the top 5 were TripAdvisor (50%), GrubHub (36%), OpenTable (34%), and Uber Eats (34%).
  • Different generations use dining technology differently. Millennials are more prone to use delivery apps (45% used Uber Eats), while Boomers are more likely to use review-oriented apps like Yelp (74%).


Business diners want to eat like a local, but want ‘tried and true’


  • Most diners seek out local flavors. 77% of business travelers said they preferred to “eat like a local,” and half (49%) researched foods that were unique to their destination.
  • Brand recognition is still important. 59% of business travelers find comfort in having “trusted brands” as available options when they travel.



Many companies offer lenient dining policies, and reward programs are catching on


  • Per diems aren’t required. One in three (34%) of respondents said their company enforced a per diem. More common is encouragement to use guidelines instead (41%).


    • It’s not always cut and dry. Nearly a quarter of respondents (22%) said they have no formal dining policy at all.
    • Careful with the money. Even with this in mind, diners aren’t always comfortable asking for reimbursement on all items. 46% of respondents said they were concerned about appearing irresponsible for expensing things outside of policy.


  • Corporate dining policies are flexible, and sometimes non-existent. Only 1 in 3 professionals surveyed said their company enforces a per diem. Another 22% said their company had no formal dining policy at all.



For a more in-depth look at the study’s results, download the whitepaper here.


What did you find most surprising about the research? How will you use the findings to drive your business?


Women Who Empower: Meet Jackie Kurkjian of Potbelly

March is Women’s History Month and at Dinova, we take that seriously. From the hostess stand to the corner office, women in the US have been paving the way for the restaurant industry ever since the first recorded opening in 1765. All month long we’re going to highlight some of the women who empower us to service our restaurant and corporate partners with fervor and inspire us to drive business diners to the Dinova marketplace each and every day. In this post we’re highlighting Jackie M. Kurkjian, National Director of Catering for Potbelly Sandwich Works.

When the clock strikes noon in the office and you’re in that same meeting that you’ve been in since the early morning, food better be on its way. We at Dinova know the importance of catering services in the workplace, whether you’re ordering lunch for a group in the office or planning a private event offsite.


Jackie M. Kurkjian is an expert in the catering field, with over 15 years of experience in the industry. As the National Director of Catering for Potbelly Sandwich Works, she is in charge of developing and growing Potbelly’s robust catering business unit and inspiring a nationwide sales team to exceed their goals. Her expertise includes strategic planning, improving efficiency of operations, directing all aspects of the sales process and developing and implementing multi-channel marketing plans. Ms. Kurkjian is highly regarded in the catering world – so much so that she was selected by The Catering Institute to serve on the Catering Council for Multi-unit Restaurant Operators in 2017.

Friends and colleagues describe Ms. Kurkjian as a true professional in every sense of the word. In her extensive career is she known not only for producing stellar results through innovative marketing strategies and showcasing new revenue streams for restaurants, but she is also a true mentor to others. She has a knack for recognizing talents within someone and challenging them to use those talents to accelerate their career.

And why do we love working with Ms. Kurkjian? “Jackie is amazing to have as a leading professional in the Dinova Marketplace!” notes Leila Willingham, Director of National and Regional Restaurant Brands for Dinova. “She really understands what a business diner is looking for when they need a catering job and she is always putting Potbelly’s name on the map for any opportunity available. Every time there’s a chance for us to serve food for a Dinova event – even if it’s just a small cookie order – Jackie is there, ready to give Dinova business. Jackie inspires me because she says ‘yes’ to every opportunity, takes time to understand the needs of a business inside and out and is an overall incredible woman, both professionally and personally.”


We are honored to work with Ms. Kurkjian and help drive business to Potbelly in all 450+ locations. If you want to make your next lunch really happy with Potbelly’s award winning sandwiches, find the nearest location to your work on our app or web search.



Dinova is Dishing Up a Better Search.

You know the saying – high tech means high touch. Nourishing connections with our companies, restaurants and business diners means that we at Dinova need to ensure that our mobile tools are of the most pristine value. That’s why we are so excited to announce the launch of our new web search and app to make your foodie experience better than ever in the Dinova marketplace! We sat down with Danny Davis, Chief Technology Officer, to share with you what’s going on in the mobile tech space and what we’ve done to dish up a smarter search for you.

Danny Photo
Danny Davis, Chief Technology Officer

Q: What are consumers looking for in a user experience with using an app in 2018?  How are we meeting those expectations here at Dinova with the new release?

Davis: “Smartphone users have become accustomed to the fluidity and immediacy of the digital age. And, thanks to advancements in mobile app user interfaces from large brands such as Google, Apple and Amazon, the user experience is the most important part of any mobile app. After all, according to eMarketing, the average time spent inside an app in 2017 was 3 hours and 23 minutes as opposed to mobile web, which was 50 minutes*. This puts pressure on app designers to make user experiences unforgettable.

As we continue to advance in electronics and software, digital companies continuously set the expectations for users with each new upgrade. Statista observes that in 2016, 23 percent of users abandoned an app after first use, while 27 percent used an app two to five times before never using it again. * No longer can a smartphone app look shoddy and pieced together, but it must flow with beautiful hi-resolution photos and an ease of use with detailed specs that help them accomplish whatever task needed that day; even if it is just flinging birds at pigs.

Not surprisingly, with high demand of an excellent user experience, Dinova has successfully designed its latest app to meet the expectations of the digitally savvy business diner. The interface in the new app offers an ease of use and understanding that makes it simple to search for restaurants within our marketplace no matter where the user is located in the U.S.”


 Q: How does visual engagement play a role in the experience from digital to dining?

Davis: “In our new app, we are giving business diners a unique glimpse into each of our 14,000+ restaurant locations that participate in the marketplace. By using mouth-watering images of food, along with detailed explanations of each restaurant offering, our app is providing an enhanced visual stimulus that users crave while giving them confidence that, regardless of which place they choose to eat, will provide to them an outstanding experience.

We also encourage business diners to return the visual favor by posting about their meals online and tagging our social media accounts which allows us to share great experiences with other diners.”

Q: How does the new experience in 2018 pave the way for what’s coming in the future?

Davis: “Right now is an exciting time in the digital world. New technology innovations nearly saturate the ever-changing landscape. What we see in the future for our app are key developments with the user experience while still providing the same ease of use for finding Dinova marketplace restaurants.

The future holds no limits digitally, and in later iterations of the Dinova app we will push notifications for restaurant recommendations in key markets, as well as a rate and review system for users to tell each other how they liked a restaurant in a certain city. These are just some of features we plan to add in the future, and we’re excited to keep learning, innovating and optimizing with every new update.”

Beautiful african woman using cellphone outdoors

Are you ready to experience the new world of Dinova? Download the app for IOS or Android and, after you’ve played around with your cuisine preferences, tell us what you think. We want to hear from you, so if you write us a review, we’ll give you the chance to win a restaurant gift card! We’re announcing winners every Monday on our social media accounts and the contest lasts all month long.

We’re so proud with the accomplishments we’ve made in our mobile world already in 2018 and we can’t wait to show you other innovations coming your way. Stay tuned, foodies!


* https://www.emarketer.com/corporate/coverage/be-prepared-mobile?ecid=m1216&CTA&mkt_tok=eyJpIjoiWWpRME9HTmlPV013WkROayIsInQiOiJ4TDFKUlpSSDFXREl4cDVcL3Y3dmVUbGJSMU53V0pieStHSTkrUmZrTlNraTFRZnZlbGpMSmFqdGN0YlNSa1dJcjFxUFgwd0pHV0MyUmVGandZdDQwYkszRHlUdFhsWUpRVTZuOXFieTBUbFdNS0hsMnhEaGtGNzlBUCtYajNDcVEifQ%3D%3D


* https://www.statista.com/topics/779/mobile-internet/