SpendSmart™ Report

Certify SpendSmart™ Report

How business travelers are spending the corporate dime while on the road

The Certify SpendSmart™ quarterly report analyzes the most recent business expense transactions and vendor ratings data to provide valuable insights to Certify clients and the corporate T&E industry at large.

Fourth Quarter, 2018

October 1 — December 31, 2018


2018 Year in Review

2018 Year in Review

Travel & Expense Management Trends

It has been another exciting year for business travel and expense in North America. The SpendSmart™ Year in Review Report tracks T&E spending benchmarks drawn from more than $3.3B in expense transactions processed by Certify in 2018. We identify the leading expense categories, most expensed brands, and those who are earning the highest ratings.


HOW THE T&E EXPENSE BUDGET WAS SPENT IN 2018

Meals held its position as most expensed category in 2018, with 17.2% of receipts. It's a reminder of just how large—and often overlooked—this category can be for organizations.

T&E Category Benchmark Averages in 2018
% of receipts by category
MEALS 17.2%
RIDE HAILING* 15.3%
AIRFARE 13.9%
HOTEL 12.2%
FUEL 11.3%
MISCELLANEOUS 11.1%
SUPPLIES 4.8%
CELL PHONE 4.5%
CAR RENTAL 4.2%
GROCERY 2.2%
SHIPPING 2.0%
PARKING 0.8%
TOLLS 0.5%
*Ride hailing includes taxis and sharing economy vendors. Percent of total annual company travel and entertainment receipts by expense category based on more than 50 million receipts and expenses processed by the Certify system in 2018.

AVERAGE TRANSACTION COST BY EXPENSE CATEGORY

Seven out of 13 categories—including meals, hotels, fuel, and tolls—saw an increase in average expense costs in 2018. That said, the average costs for ride hailing, airfare, miscellaneous items, cell phones, car rentals, and parking all came down

Category 2018 Average Expense Cost Change from 2017
MEALS $32.08 +
RIDE HAILING* $24.26 -
AIRFARE $277.65 -
HOTEL $264.46 +
FUEL $36.86 +
MISCELLANEOUS $120.30 -
SUPPLIES $115.32 +
CELL PHONE $91.86 -
CAR RENTAL $192.99 -
GROCERY $70.78 +
SHIPPING $132.58 +
PARKING $37.04 -
TOLLS $45.98 +
*Ride hailing includes taxis and sharing economy vendors.

MOST EXPENSED VENDORS OVERALL

Digital disruption continued in 2018 with brands such as Uber, Amazon, and Lyft jostling into position in the top ten most expensed vendors. Business travelers' continued reliance on ride hailing vendors kept Uber in the number one spot with 11% of all transactions.

Vendor 2018 Expense Percentage
UBER 11.0%
STARBUCKS 4.1%
AMAZON 4.0%
DELTA 3.6%
AMERICAN AIRLINES 3.4%
LYFT 2.8%
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES 2.8%
UNITED AIRLINES 2.7%
WALMART 2.7%
SHELL 2.5%

MOST EXPENSED VENDORS BY CATEGORY

The most expensed brands in 2018 remain unchanged from our 2017 report, holding onto their lead category positions for meals, hotel, car rental, ride hailing, and airfare.

Meals STARBUCKS 23.4%
Hotel HAMPTON INN 14.9%
Car Rental NATIONAL CAR RENTAL 36.2%
Ride Hailing UBER 73.0%
Airfare DELTA 22.5%

THE BRANDS BUSINESS TRAVELERS LOVE MOST

Consumer-focused and digital brands took top marks in user ratings in 2018, showcasing the importance of delivering exceptional experiences.

Meals CHICK-FIL-A 4.6
Hotel MARRIOTT 4.4
Car Rental NATIONAL CAR RENTAL 4.4
Ride Hailing LYFT 4.7
Airfare JETBLUE 4.6
*Average rating represents the average 1 through 5 star rating for all expenses for each vendor, with 5 stars being the highest rating and 1 being the lowest.

MOST EXPENSED BRANDS YEAR-OVER-YEAR COMPARISON

Vendor 2017 Expense Percentage
UBER 8.7%
STARBUCKS 4.2%
DELTA 3.8%
AMAZON 3.6%
AMERICAN AIRLINES 3.5%
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES 2.8%
WALMART 2.7%
UNITED AIRLINES 2.7%
SHELL 2.6%
MCDONALD'S 2.4%
Vendor 2016 Expense Percentage
UBER 6.3%
STARBUCKS 4.4%
DELTA 4.1%
AMERICAN AIRLINES 3.6%
AMAZON 3.0%
SOUTHWEST AIRLINES 2.9%
SHELL 2.7%
UNITED AIRLINES 2.7%
MCDONALD'S 2.5%
WALMART 2.4%

RIDE HAILING INDUSTRY TRENDS

The industry shake-up in 2015—led by ride hailing pioneer Uber—fundamentally changed the way we travel for business and pleasure. As business travelers and consumers continued to place a premium on convenience in 2018, ride hailing companies grew.

Top Ride Hailing Brands
UBER 72.9%
LYFT 18.9%
TAXI 8.3%
Average Cost Per Ride*
TAXI $33.35
UBER $25.88
LYFT $24.50
Average User Rating
LYFT 4.7
UBER 4.5
TAXI 4.0
*Average rating represents the average 1 through 5 star rating for all expenses for each vendor, with 5 stars being the highest rating and 1 being the lowest.


FOOD DELIVERY

Another signal of shifting business traveler preferences is the gravitation to digital brands that provide the convenience of a warm meal delivered right to one's hotel or office. The category has seen a 118% year-over-year growth compared with 2017.

Top Five Brands
GRUBHUB 35.9%
UBER EATS 25.3%
DOORDASH 20.9%
POSTMATES 10.7%
SEAMLESS 7.2%
Average Cost Per Expense
DOORDASH $72.32
SEAMLESS $69.06
GRUBHUB $64.26
POSTMATES $58.79
UBER EATS $35.40
Average User Rating
SEAMLESS 4.8
UBER EATS 4.7
DOORDASH 4.5
POSTMATES 4.4
GRUBHUB 4.3
*Average rating represents the average 1 through 5 star rating for all expenses for each vendor, with 5 stars being the highest rating and 1 being the lowest.

About This Report: The Certify SpendSmart™ Report provides a snapshot of the current spend trends of business travelers in North America with all data compiled from actual expense data from submitted expense reports.

For all media inquires please contact Kevin Wolf of TGPR, kevin@tgprllc.com or (650) 327-1641.

Archived SpendSmart™ Reports

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  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - First Quarter Report, 2018 View Report
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  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - First Quarter Report, 2017 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - Fourth Quarter Report, 2016 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - Third Quarter Report, 2016 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - Second Quarter Report, 2016 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - First Quarter Report, 2016 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - Fourth Quarter Report, 2015 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - Third Quarter Report, 2015 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - Second Quarter Report, 2015 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - First Quarter Report, 2015 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - Fourth Quarter Report, 2014 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - Third Quarter Report, 2014 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - Second Quarter Report, 2014 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - First Quarter Report, 2014 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - Fourth Quarter Report, 2013 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - Third Quarter Report, 2013 View Report
  • Certify SpendSmart™ Report - Second Quarter Report, 2013 View Report
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