Although consumer confidence still lags, according to a recent story by USA Today, the good news is corporate dining is on the rise. Vic Macchio, c.e.o. of Dinova, a company that connects some of the biggest U.S. companies to a network of preferred restaurants, says his corporate client base increased its overall restaurant spend by five percent in the third quarter.
Those clients—companies across all sectors, like Siemens, Lockheed Martin, Michaels and Advance Auto Parts, for example—spend more than a billion dollars annually on dining and earn rebates when their employees eat at the more than 10,000 restaurants in Dinova’s network.
“Corporations are getting more aggressive as the economy begins to see daylight,” Macchio says. “They are increasingly active in courting new customers and expanding relationships with existing clients. Despite the many hi-tech communications means we all use today, there is still no substitute for sharing a meal with someone to cement a relationship.”
Dinova’s network of restaurants runs the gamut from quick service to fine dining, including both chains and independents. Macchio says “corporate dining” encompasses the obvious instances of business travelers taking out clients, but also when colleagues from a home office go out for lunch or dinner and even when a company caters an event. He says although corporate travel wanes around the holidays, the fourth quarter is looking strong because of a healthy October and the surge in company-funded holiday parties. He expects that positive trend to continue into 2014.
Earlier this year, Dinova’s data showed corporate dining was growing at fast-casual and quick-service restaurants, but falling at the higher end because many customers were trading down as a result of the recession. That, he says, “is starting to reverse a little.”
Another positive sign for the economy came earlier this month when the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported gross domestic product grew 2.8 percent, which was better than expected.