ating E ut O 18 | Hospitality Today | June/July 2016 Trends & news Lunch is a serious business British business is under threat from a decline in professional networking opportunities resulting from the ‘death’ of the business lunch, according to new research released this month. Nevertheless, a quarter of Brits (25%) feel they go on fewer business lunches now compared to when they first started work and 38% feel it is less acceptable to take time out of the office to attend lunches. The study, commissioned by restaurant booking platform Bookatable, found that two thirds of Brits (66%) who have been working since the 80s have seen a decline in business lunches over their careers. 30% of workers in professions that rely on relationship building - such as marketing, advertising and PR - worry that the decline could harm their business. Financial pressures (41%) and a lack of time (28%) are both factors in the decline of business lunches, with 17% of workers believing fallout from the “credit crunch” contributed to the death of the practice. For many professions, business lunches are critical to signing deals and 40% of workers say that the opportunity to bond with clients or consultants over lunch is the key driver to signing on the dotted line. A quarter of British workers (25%) believe business lunches give the opportunity to find out about new business opportunities, while one in five (22%) admit that business lunches help them to retain clients. Workplace pressures also play a role, with a fifth of Brits (19%) saying staff shortages mean they cannot take time out of the office to attend business lunches. Moreover, one in ten workers (13%) have been told not to attend a lunch by their boss in recent years. The majority (79%) of those who have been working throughout the last few decades cite the 80s as the ‘heyday’ of the business lunch, with almost half of workers (44%) having access to an expense account to pay for business lunches. This is in stark contrast to modern workers, who must stick to a budget when business lunching (45%) or use more affordable chain restaurants as business lunch locations (36%). A third of modern workers (34%) will race through a business lunch, spending an hour or less at the table. The average spend today of £35 per head is a fifth (20%) less than their peers in the 1980s used to spend (£42%).