Corporate Dining Trends: Work Travelers Crave Authentic & Healthy Meals

Corporate dining trends revealed in a Dinova and GBTA survey show that business travelers can be quite thoughtful when it comes to eating on the road.

When you think of corporate dining, you probably imagine a smartly-dressed business traveler settled in at a table that’s been set with individual utensils for every course, listening to the waiter recite the day’s specials. In some ways, this is an accurate picture – Dinova and the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) released a 2018 report on corporate dining trends, finding that 79% of Baby Boomer road warriors tend towards such upscale restaurants.

But with the influx of new generations in the work traveler industry comes new habits. Dominating today’s corporate dining trends are a desire for authentic food and healthy dishes. Most importantly, road warriors seek meals that fit into the unique agenda of every work traveler, whether that entails quick bites between meetings or client entertaining.

Authentic

While frequent business travel can be stressful, the charms of dining on unique cuisine have yet to wear road warriors down. Dinova’s survey found that 77% of work travelers seek out regional dishes when on a business trip. From gumbo in New Orleans to fish and chips in London, local staples aren’t soon to be overlooked by hungry road warriors.

In fact, having an authentic dining experience is so important that around half of work travelers fold local dining research into their pre-trip preparations, looking up in advance what dishes their destination is known for and where the best restaurants are located. It wouldn’t be surprising to see something like “8am – get beignets at Café Du Monde before meeting” in a business trip calendar.

Such careful consideration into where to eat isn’t just a by-product of overzealous planning. When in a new destination, it’s natural to want to experience a taste of local culture. For road warriors, an authentic meal seems to satisfy those cravings.

Healthy

Equally significant to work travelers are the nutritional value of their dishes. According to the Dinova study, 76% of road warriors take their health into consideration when selecting a dish. The word “healthy” can be multi-faceted, and road warriors find many ways to eat well on the road: 18% favor gluten-free, 23% look for vegan or vegetarian grub, and 43% have a soft spot for published nutrition facts.

It’s no secret that frequent travel can can take a toll on one’s well-being, and as such it’s hardly surprising that today’s corporate travel trends show an inclination towards healthy meals. Yet, despite nutrition being cited as a major concern for business diners, Certify’s quarterly summaries on work travel spending regularly find McDonald’s, Starbucks, and other fast food chains among the most-expensed restaurants.

While business diners strive for authenticity and nutrition in their food, the reality is that mealtime may need to accommodate a very long to-do list.

Practical

With a tight agenda, road warriors need to be more practical with their meals from time to time. The Dinova and GBTA findings provide additional insight into the unique corporate dining trends of different generations, highlighting how each approach breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are likely to be found entertaining clients, with more than half of the former generation joining clients for dinner. Lower percentages treat clients to breakfast and lunch, but it’s still a remarkable contrast to how millennial road warriors dine.

The youngest generation in the business travel workforce seem to treat eating as an afterthought. Just over half of millennial road warriors opt for fast food when traveling for work, and many meals are consumed on-the-go.

Either way, business travel dining isn’t all about local tastes balanced with vegan dishes. Corporate dining trends show that while road warrior palates favor authentic and healthy, practicality often wins.

Corporate Dining Trends, Business Travel Life 2

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Business Travel Life

Business Travel Life is an online resource for business travelers. Business Travel Life covers business travel tips and trends, healthy travel, travel accessories, hotel workouts and topics that matter to travelers. Business Travel Life supports business travelers and road warrior who want to get in and stay in shape. We provide travel workout programs for business travelers, accessible online using our app. Our goal is to make business travel healthier and healthy business travel easier.

Mellisa Pascale
Mellisa Pascale

Mellisa is a writer and traveler. She’s studied in London, backpacked in Europe, and road-tripped around Iceland. Most recently, her travels took her to New Zealand, where she worked and volunteered while participating in the Working Holiday Visa program.

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