Tuesday, November 12, 2013


When I was on OPM, I learned a lot about wine.  Yes, OPM = Other Peoples’ Money, as in the Corporate America expense accounts from which I benefited.  Consequently, I find it interesting that today’s business travelers have become extremely frugal.  Why?   

Read On:
Certify, a software management company, publishes SpendSmart, a quarterly spending analysis on business travel.  According to their report, under food spending, the top three most expensed restaurants in order were Starbucks, McDonald’s and Subway.  SpendSmart also ranks restaurants based on travelers’ preferences rather than frequency of purchases; the top five (in order) were Jimmy John’s, Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, Panera Bread and Dunkin Donuts.  Another expense-report tracking company Concur indicated that spending on dining has declined approximately 11.1 percent.

What is driving business travelers’ frugal dining behavior?  According to the Global Business Travel Association, overall spending will be up 5.4 percent this year versus last.  In the United States they project spending will be an estimated $272 billion, up from $262 billion in 2012.  A major contributing factor is the rise in airfares and hotel rates.  As a result, some analysts believe as companies cut back on travel budgets, their employees compensate by spending less on dining.  More significantly there is our “grab & go” culture which includes the availability of takeout food, speedy delivery services, as well as mobile online ordering.  Oh yes, let’s not forget Wi-Fi available at the restaurants mentioned above and in most hotels, an essential connectivity tool for today’s road warriors.  
Have you reduced your OPM?


  1. Those were the days (sigh), but changes in the tax deductibility (now 80%) and pressures from corporate margin improvements have placed so many restrictions that a bottle of wine is no longer OPM. Glad I'm no longer on the corporate teet.

  2. In health care and social services food was first budget item to go years back; alcohol rarely part of culture . Now if corporate leaders examined bonus structure with same scalpel we would see meaningful belt tightening

  3. Hi Jim,

    Certainly, the reduced travelling budgets are a factor, but I think it's also reflective, sadly, of our unhealthy relationship with food. Food has definitely become something we just consume, instead of having a relationship with. By that, I'm referring to how chefs speak of not just the art of cooking and food preparation, but their almost reverance and love for the beauty of fresh produce and meats.

    Just look at the food we buy and how they emphasize that it's gluten-free, reduced salt, fat free, etc. Our focus is purely on minimizing negatives from food consumption so we don't have to think about what we're eating.

    And that's my thinking for why fast casual outlets are thriving - not just for economics (after all, McDonald's prices have been rising - I've noted that for just 10-15 dollars more, my family can eat at a more healthy, casual eatery) but because of how we view the food we eat.

  4. Intresting comments. Thank you!

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