by Allen J. Sheinman | August 14, 2018
New research suggests that the way we eat while traveling for business purposes differs according to our generational identification. According to a first-of-its-kind study conducted by the Global Business Travel Association in partnership with Dinova Inc., Millennials (aged 18-34) tend to dine on the go, Gen Xers (35-54) typically dine in a group with colleagues, and Baby Boomers (55+) are most likely to wine and dine their clients.
Contrary to a prevailing stereotype that Millennials are entitled or difficult employees, the study found that they are much more likely to be reluctant to order extras such as room service (66 percent) or coffee and snacks (70 percent) while traveling, as opposed to their Gen X or Boomer colleagues -- even when their travel policy allows it.
 

Among other generational differences uncovered in the GBTA study:

• A slight majority of Millennials (51 percent) report they eat fast food while traveling; 18 percent say they partake of grab-n-go breakfasts; 23 percent eat quick, easy lunches on their own; and 18 percent get take-out or have their dinners delivered.
• Among members of Gen X, an especially sociable bunch, 18 percent eat breakfast with clients; 31 percent tend to eat lunch with co-workers; 30 percent eat dinner with co-workers and, overall, 51 percent engage in fast, casual dining.
• With Baby Boomers, a whopping 79 percent gravitate to upscale casual dining; 63 percent eat breakfast in their hotel, 38 percent eat lunch with clients and 52 percent eat dinner with clients.
 
When it comes to the use of technology in the service of dining, it's not surprising that the youngest group, Millennials, are more willing to use the tools and technology made available to them through their travel programs. For instance, they are much more likely to use Uber Eats, while Boomers prefer to search for the best-reviewed restaurants in the area by using Yelp. Overall, fully 63 percent of business travelers research where to dine prior to leaving for their trip, and 63 percent have dining-related apps on their mobile phone.
 
Similar to how companies have preferred airline, hotel or car-rental vendors, a preferred-dining program provides a list of policy-approved restaurants for dining on official company business. Nearly 4 in 10 (38 percent) business travelers say their companies have a preferred-dining program, and a similar share (37 percent) are interested in having one. Additionally, 74 percent say they would be more motivated to use a preferred program if they earned rewards. Interestingly, 75 percent of Millennials would be more likely to become a member if rewards points could be redeemed toward their favorite charity, compared with 61 percent of Gen Xers and 42 percent of boomers.
 
"A one-size-fits-all approach often isn't the answer when it comes to crafting travel policy," said Jessica Collison, GBTA research director. "The research reveals that clear generational differences exist when it comes to preferences around dining out while traveling for work. For travel buyers considering a preferred-dining program, it's important to make sure the program you choose meets the needs of all of your travelers."