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Business Travel - Contract Restaurants???

rainsux Aug 21, 2012 02:29 PM

I have been doing the weekly travel thing for ~15 years ... and have
seen lots of changes in the name of "expense control." Recently,
meal caps were swizzled (reduced) and declared to be per-diems.

Now we are being told to dine at restaurants with which the company
has negotiated rebates ... and to log/report the restaurant expenditure
by using the corporate credit card, via the expense report (as non-

Okay, it's the new rule. Got it. Anyone else dealing with such tortured
per-diem logic?

I am so not looking forward to next week's trip, where the preferred
restaurants are:

- Dennys
- Texas Roadhouse
- Outback
- Carrabbas
- Bonefish

I notice that none of the choices offer Kosher or Halal. <g>

  1. l
    LeoLioness Aug 22, 2012 07:19 AM

    I think that really sucks. I've got no problem with a travel budget or food per diem--this is work, not my own vacation. But I also think business travel can be bad enough without adding crappy chain restaurants to the mix, if they can be avoided. And often, with a little research, they can be.

    I truly hope you are not expected to invite clients to dinner at these places?

    1. t
      tastesgoodwhatisit Aug 21, 2012 08:04 PM

      I suspect that this is probably legal, but it still really, really sucks, because of the limited selection they offer. I am curious how they would address employees with dietary restrictions, whether health or religious based, though.

      I think I'd still refuse to eat at Denny's though. I've eaten there once in 20 years, and that was solely due to jet lag, a layover in LAX, and the desperate need for greasy breakfast food at 5am.

      I do see this as different, conceptually, than preferred airlines, hotels and car-rental companies, because it is directly linked to the diet and health of employees, and if you do weekly travel, and the restaurants are of the sort listed here, it adds up. Of course, you always have the option of buying your own meal and eating where you want.

      1. bagelman01 Aug 21, 2012 03:35 PM

        If your employer is paying, the employer has the right to specify which restaurants are acceptable for expense account dining, just as preferred airlines, hotels,and car rental companies.
        If instead you officially have a 'per diem' then where you eat is your business and you should receive the daily reimbursement. If the rate is $50 and you spend $60 you pay the extra $10 from your pocket. If you spend $40 you keep the extra $10.
        Rebates, airline mileage, hotel points are the property of the business, and if you get them for personal use they are taxable to you as income (in the USA).

        Chances are that your employer would have to make other arrangements for Kosher or Hallal eaters.

        6 Replies
        1. re: bagelman01
          rainsux Aug 21, 2012 04:26 PM

          Officially; it is being called "per diem" ... a change from cap'd, daily meal expenditures. Yet the
          latest interpretation only allows for spending the "per diem" at contract restaurants. IMHO, a
          tortured re-definition of the accepted defn.

          Anyone else experiencing this???

          > If you spend $40 you keep the extra $10.

          This aspect was mentioned as, "unexpected - eating cheap." Unexpected? Really? Somebody
          missed day #3 of 10th-grade Psychology.

          1. re: rainsux
            bagelman01 Aug 21, 2012 04:41 PM

            So, your employer is giving you a 'daily allowance' to spend at specified restaurants only.

            Unfortunately, in a free market your employer can do this if it does not violate an employemnt contract.

            In this lousy economy, employees are not likely to leave employment because of a restriction such as this. It's not like you are ordered to only eat at McD, Burger King or Wendy's.

            Cost control is important for businesses, which is why corporate travel departmennts and rates exist.

            One company I worked for only allowed us to stay in lodging that provided breakfast. The employer would not reimburse breakfast expenses. Another emnployer only reimbursed breakfast and dinner when we were on the road. The employer's rationale was that you had to eat lunch whether you were on the road or in the office. But it's not easy to brown bag it when on the road.

            The week after next, I'm bringing in a consultant for three days. I made the reservations at Homewood Suites. There is a Marriott next door that charges the same business rate, but Homewood Suites includes a full breakfast and dinner on these dates. This saves me $75 per day.

            1. re: bagelman01
              mucho gordo Aug 21, 2012 05:24 PM

              Why does it save you $75? Can't you include it in your billable to the client?

              1. re: mucho gordo
                rainsux Aug 21, 2012 05:51 PM

                > daily allowance

                That's a more apt desc. It certainly ain't a per diem in GSA or IRS-speak.

                Perhaps he is the client. $75 is generous, 2x my per diem ... But he's not paying it. I am curious what HS considers to be dinner. Or, perhaps they have a reasonably full service kitchen. (not yet stayed at a HS)

                RMOAS ... 30-some years ago, AT&T sent 90 of us to MIT for one year. They contracted the Hyatt for room and board. After a few weeks, we were sick and tired of our limited/subset'd menu. Thankfully, somebody at Hyatt "got it" and really began changing it up in very good ways.

                1. re: rainsux
                  bagelman01 Aug 21, 2012 07:37 PM

                  Homewood Suites I use for consultants and Clients has Fully equipped kitchens in each suite, down to full sized refrigerators, stove and dishwasher. There are BBQ grills on the deck outside the pool, as well.
                  Dinner includes drinks and apps in the lounge, then choices of 3 or 4 mains (Beef, chicken, fish, pasta, salads and sides. No desert most nights, but they have fresh baked cookies at the desk after 7pm

                2. re: mucho gordo
                  bagelman01 Aug 21, 2012 07:30 PM

                  In this case I am the client....................

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