Does B2B Matter? 4 Key Learnings from the Restaurant Leadership Conference

Hey, that’s me!

Author: Scott Martin, Vice President of Restaurant Partnerships


I had an amazing time at this year’s Restaurant Leadership Conference. Not only was the location (Scottsdale, Arizona) incredible, but the content was exceptional and the speakers where some of the best yet including Magic Johnson, Sarah Thomas (the first female NFL Referee), and Dr. Robert Gates (former US Secretary of Defense 2006 – 2011).

For Dinova, this show is always one of the best opportunities of the year to connect with our existing restaurant partners and to meet new ones. It also presents an opportunity for us to facilitate some meaningful content to our unique business dining niche within the restaurant industry. This year was no exception as we hosted a panel on the importance of having a B2B strategy that taps into the $100B+ business dining opportunity ($77B in business travel meals, $15B in business catering and $9B in corporate private dining). In holding this panel, I learned a lot about what restaurateurs know and don’t know about the B2B industry. Here were some of my key learnings, and for restaurateurs out there, I hope this helps you in growing your sales through a route you may have never considered.

1. Most people don’t know who a business diner is. While I love talking about business dining and B2B restaurant strategies, one of the first things I learned early in my career at Dinova is that most restaurateurs are unsure of the true definition of a business diner, and this was true a the Restaurant Leadership Conference. So, let’s break it down: A business diner is an employee who is using the company credit card, spending the company’s money while conducting official company business. While someone, for instance, may look like a business diner because they’re at your restaurant eating lunch with a badge on, if they’re using their personal credit card, they are simply on a lunch break. You can learn more about the most common misconceptions HERE.

Magic Johnson was so inspirational in his talk!

2. Attracting business diners is very different from attracting consumer diners. We at Dinova learned this in our recent research study with the Global Business Traveler Association (GBTA), where we primarily focused on business travelers who are dining on the road. Here are some tidbits for you to know:

• 63% of business travelers research restaurant options before they depart for their trip;
• 77% of business travelers like to experience local restaurant options when out of town, but at the same time 59% said they also like to have trusted brands available as well;
• 63% of business travelers have a dining app on their phone;
• 76% said they having healthy options for dining on the road is important to them;
• 3 out 4 said they would eat in their company’s “preferred restaurants” if they also earned rewards.

Business diners need something that’s quick and efficient while providing an experience for their clients and colleagues, and it’s important to have a polished, professional atmosphere for them when they’re conducting business. To learn more about how to attract business diners, download the entire report HERE.

3. A B2B strategy is really important. Our esteemed panel at the Restaurant Leadership Conference felt that have a specific B2B strategy was crucial and that this segment of the market is driven more by the priorities of their company and their business than by traditional consumer marketing tactics. They are highly profitable diners because they are paying full menu prices, are typically a larger party, and spend more on high profit menu items such as alcohol, appetizers and desserts.

Thank you to our panel speakers!

The panel included several restaurant and catering experts as well as one corporate travel management expert. I can’t thank these experts enough for the insights they provided to our restaurateurs: 

  • Chris Westcott, President and CEO of Rosa Mexicana.
  • Pam Nedwetsky, Director of Marketing from Grimaldi’s Coal Brick Oven Pizzeria
  • Jim Rand, Operating Partner of Act III Holdings.
  • Alicia Kruse, Procurement Agent, Indirect Supply Chain from Boeing

These experts were able to speak from their wealth of personal experience on how they attract business travelers, executive admins, meeting & event planners, and other strategic business diners to their restaurants to engage in meals while traveling, small/large meetings, private dining and off-premise catering.

4. Most restaurateurs don’t have a B2B strategy. Restaurateurs are so focused on providing B2C promotions, like coupons and online specials, that three out of four of them neglect to promote to highly profitable business diners. I think that’s what makes Dinova so important to the restaurant industry, since we do the B2B strategy for the restaurateur. Dinova provides a turn-key, proven B2B solution for restaurants and really is the only way to attract business diners at scale. Dinova’s proprietary solutions get restaurants access to these business diners by promoting them through the mechanisms that their client company’s use to ensure compliance to their travel & entertainment policies. These are behind the firewall of the company and inaccessible to a brand on its own. Partnering with Dinova unlocks the access to these proprietary channels and positions the partner restaurant where the actual dining decisions are made.

I had a blast at the Restaurant Leadership Conference this year, and I look forward to attending again in 2020. I hope that these findings help you in growing your restaurant’s business with a solid B2B strategy. 


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1 Comment

  1. Lynda Baker on June 21, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    This is such a good read, succinctly explaining the tremendous value of the Dinova Marketplace to both restaurants and business travelers.

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