Author: Sue Shouldis, Director of Business Development
Sometimes, not being able to stop thinking about work after hours is a problem. And when your job revolves around the topics of dining and restaurants, like mine does, even the activities that people typically turn to for distraction can put you right back into work mode. (Can you think of more than a couple of movies that don’t include any characters interacting with food or scenes set in restaurants?) Fortunately, I really do love my job, and I absolutely enjoy those moments when my at-work and at-ease interests connect.
Case in point: while there are many things that I find inspiring, I’ll admit here to being particularly enthusiastic about travel, food and television. I love the way the small screen has the ability to project over into everyday life and give us shared experiences. The Monday after the Golden Globes aired, for example, there’s a good chance the red carpet antics of the Fiji water girl probably cropped up in your morning chit-chat at least once, right?
This also gets me thinking about what, arguably, was one of fall 2018’s best new shows, “A Million Little Things.” With my Dinova viewing goggles strategically in place, I can’t help recalling the scenes in which one character is opening a restaurant and going through all of the typical struggles of your average up-and-coming restaurateur, and thinking, “Wow, she could really benefit from our program.”
For those of you who’ve never seen “A Million Little Things,” let me give you a synopsis. (the mid-season premiere starts/started January 17, so it’s the perfect time to get caught up.) A group of friends from Boston bond under unexpected and heartbreaking circumstances (keep the tissues handy). The cast of characters includes people at all different stages of their personal and professional development, and a tragic event in the first episode serves as a wake-up call that forces them to take stock of their dreams.
When we first meet the aspiring restaurateur character, Regina Howard, she seems stalled in making the transition from kitchen-based caterer to becoming the restaurateur she has always wanted to be. After unexpectedly being gifted a restaurant (this is fiction, remember), Regina is hit hard by the unvarnished setbacks and realities of restaurant ownership: How does one even plan a restaurant opening? What all does she need? Who’ll be there to support her along the way?
Watching Regina’s journey in opening her restaurant in “A Million Little Things,” brings to mind the million little things that Dinova does to help build connections between restaurateurs, companies and business diners.
New restaurant owners have to deal with a million little things that affect the dining experience they’re creating. We get to see Regina picking out fixtures, but that’s just one tiny thing on a new restaurateur’s to-do list. With payment systems and hiring decisions as much more pressing concerns, the last thing they want to do is worry about how to get people in through their doors. This is where Dinova can help budding – and even established – restaurateurs: by bringing in diners who are eating out while on the job, primarily during more traditionally slow traffic times for restaurants (in the middle of the week, instead of during the busy Friday or Saturday-night rush times), while also typically spending more on their meals than other diners at the same time.
We also get to see Regina gather her friends together for a tasting, inviting them in to be her first diners and help her lock down the menu ahead of the big opening. Likewise, we love having the opportunity to gather our corporate friends together at Taste Dinova and Dinova Express events at our partner restaurants. Whether the event is a happy hour or a multi-stop dine-around, our corporate contacts appreciate being invited into our venues, giving them a personal connection to specific restaurants within our 18,000+ restaurant marketplace. They get to sample the menu, try out signature offerings, and see first-hand the private dining rooms and event capacities of restaurants that are committed to providing business-class dining experiences. Making these connections beneficial for both restaurants and business diners is a key part of Dinova’s value proposition.
Quick side note: although it doesn’t have anything to do with the show, I would be remiss in not adding here that Dinova also offers tremendous value to travel program managers as well. Weighing in as the third largest T&E expense, on-the-ground options for managing business dining expenses historically have been slim to none, given the staggering size and diversity of the restaurant community. With Dinova, it’s simple: employees enjoy a streamlined approach to dining guidelines and a roster of amazing restaurants to choose from, and companies earn rebates every time their employees expense their Dinova restaurant meals. Compared to other compliance-wrangling programs, Dinova offers an easy cost-avoidance strategy that could pay off huge wins for T&E budgets in 2019.
So, back to “A Million Little Things.” Why do we become so invested in the lives of the fictional characters on our favorite television shows? I think it’s at least partially because we get to see into their personal and professional battles on such an intimate level that helps us handle our own challenges.
In the case of “A Million Little Things,” for me the small screen definitely highlights the Dinova-effect-silver lining for all of the players involved in business dining. There are a million little things we can do to help save on T&E expenses, build up restaurant traffic, and create a memorable experiences for employees when they’re dining for work. So let’s connect and make these things happen for you in 2019. (And in my downtime? I’ll be on my couch, dishing up the rest of the season!)
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