Certify T&E Report: Business Travelers Go for Starbucks, Delta and Uber (But Lyft is Catching Up)

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Travel and expenses management software provider Certify recently released its latest SpendSmart Report, analyzing business travel spending for Q3 2017. Lyft is experiencing impressive growth, while its ride-hailing rival Uber, as well as taxis and car rentals, are seeing declines.

The data comes from 10 million business travel receipts and expenses that are processed via Certify’s system. Certify then analyzes the data by category, such as ground transportation, meals and lodging.

Although Uber is still dominant in the category of ground transportation, Q3 marked the first time that the ride-hailing company’s market share dropped, declining from 55% in Q2 2017 to 54%. In comparison, Lyft rose from 8% last quarter to 11%. Car rentals dipped from 29% to 28%, and taxis from 8% to 7%.

Uber has been at the center of an unceasing stream of bad press this year. There was the viral #DeleteUber boycott, quickly followed by revelations of workplace sexual harassment. Former chief executive Travis Kalanick was filmed yelling at his own Uber driver in March. And by summer, Kalanick was out, and so were more than 20 Uber employees after a sexual harassment investigation.

No doubt this has contributed to Uber’s falling market share among business travelers using Certify as well as overall. Compared with the beginning of 2014, Uber’s share of the U.S. ride-hailing market has declined from 91% to 74.3% this past August, according to research firm Second Measure.

Data courtesy of Certify SpendSmart

Among car rental services, National was in the lead by far, accounting for 27% of car rental expenses. It was also rated more highly than other car services. Enterprise, Hertz and Avis came in next, at 16%, 13.5% and 13%, respectively. The average car rental expense ranged from around $180 to $210.

More than one out of five airline expenses were with Delta, with an average ticket price of $419.47. American, Southwest and United all hovered between 14% and 17%, though expense amounts differed. The average expense with Southwest, which is known for its more affordable tickets, was $277.23, compared with $393.10 on United. Alaska Airlines also eked out 1.58% of airline expenses.

Data courtesy of Certify SpendSmart

Data courtesy of Certify SpendSmart

Business travelers like their Starbucks. The popular coffee chain was the most expensed restaurant for breakfast, accounting for 16%. When all meals are included, Starbucks was still in first place, with 5% of expenses. McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Subway and Chick-Fil-A were also popular choices. The average McDonald’s receipt was $9.19, and on the other end of the fast-casual spectrum, the average Panera Bread receipt was $44.08.

Data courtesy of Certify SpendSmart

As for where business travelers are sleeping, Hampton Inn and Marriott are the most popular choices, accounting for 9.2% and 8.2% of hotel receipts, respectively. They are also slightly more expensive than other popular choices, which include Holiday Inn, Hilton and Doubletree properties.

Check out the full report here.

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