Dinova adds a concierge service for private events

Corporate catering program provider Dinova has launched a concierge service to help companies plan private catering events, the company announced.

The Dine Assist service connects businesses with a dedicated event specialist who has experience working with restaurants, including ensuring specific needs are met, such as equipment setup and special menus, said Alison Quinn, CEO of Dinova, to BTN. “Our role is to connect the meeting planner with the restaurant and assist in the product negotiation process.”

The service operates Dinova’s network of more than 21,000 restaurants, primarily in the United States, narrowed down to those suitable for private dining events as well as select event venues, such as the Dave dining and entertainment chain. & Buster’s,” Quinn said. Meeting planners are presented with a list of locations that meet their criteria and, after selecting a location, manage the booking and final contracting directly from there.

Dine Assist follows the same revenue model as Dinova’s general service, which currently has over 500 corporate clients, including more than half of BTN’s Corporate Travel 100 companies. Dinova customers pay no fees for the service and receive a rebate on what they spend, of which Dinova receives a portion.

Dinova is launching the program because it tracks data showing business travel is coming back even if employees aren’t necessarily returning to the office, Quinn said. Data from Kastle Systems, which tracks key card access to office buildings in major US markets, reported office occupancy levels around 44% of pre-Covid-19 levels, a- she declared.

Business dining, however, has recovered more strongly, according to Dinova’s Business Dining Index, which measures these current sales against the same period in 2019. The index rose 82% in the first quarter of this year to 84% in the second quarter, and it is expected to reach 89% in the third quarter, according to Dinova. For the whole of 2021, the index was 73%, and it was 53% in 2020.

Small businesses have fully recovered their spending levels beyond 2019, while large businesses are averaging around 70%, the index shows.

At the same time, companies might not have the same staff to plan events as demand returns, providing an opening for Dine Assist, Quinn said. Dinova has also put together a guide in anticipation of a busy holiday season ahead, highlighting venues well-equipped to host holiday parties, she said.

“Meetings are coming back with some vengeance, and there’s a shortage of meeting planners right now, so Dinova can help companies find a quality, professional-looking venue to host a private dinner party,” Quinn said. “Restaurants are the new meeting place for businesses, compared to the office, so we see this as a great opportunity and a way to serve our restaurant partners as well as businesses.”

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