A Look back at the business travel and entertainment expense spending trends of 2017

A Look back at the business travel and entertainment expense spending trends of 2017

We can't say goodbye to 2017 without a review of business travel and corporate expense spending activity for the just-closed fourth quarter and full year. It's kind of our thing here at Certify, and this year marks the fifth annual Certify SpendSmart™ Report we've published analyzing changing business traveler trends and benchmark spending averages. The report highlights top vendors by transaction volume and user ratings with analysis of data from millions of expenses and receipts processed through the Certify system. And we do all this at no cost to help CFOs, controllers, accountants and business travelers make more informed choices about expense management and their purchases on the road.

To set the stage for our latest report, the Global Business travel Association estimates total U.S. based spending on corporate travel and entertainment will exceed $296 billion in 2017. That's an enormous sum of money, and it's a projected 13% increase over 2016 spending. So, with U.S. companies spending more on travel and entertainment expenses these days, the Certify SpendSmart™ Report offers exactly the kind of information corporate accountants and travel managers need to know to stay on top of their T&E budgets, and their business travelers' purchase preferences.

Now, let's jump into the 2017 numbers. Looking at expenses and receipts over the past four quarters compared to 2016 we're seeing more corporate travel expenses moving over to the ride-hailing category. Underscoring the industry disruption and change in business traveler preference, ride hailing picked up 68% of the overall ground transportation category last year led by Uber and rival Lyft (56% and 12% of the total, respectively). Remarkably, Uber also claimed 9% of all expenses and receipts processed by Certify in 2017, a 3% increase over last year and 6% more than second place Starbucks.

With Uber leading on the ground and in expense count overall, it was especially interesting to note how ride hailing in general is gaining momentum with corporate travelers faster than other innovations of the sharing economy age. For example, we've watched how alternative accommodations with Airbnb have nearly doubled each year in the Certify data since 2014, yet it still represents just under .5% of the lodging category overall today. By contrast, 2017 data shows ride hailing coming on strong in the business travel market with Uber picking up an additional 4% of ground transportation expenses and receipts (52% to 56%), and competitor Lyft adding 8%, up from 4% in 2016 to finish with 12% of the total. Elsewhere in ground transportation, things aren't looking as rosy for cabs and car rental. Taxi expenses appear to have bottomed out with 7% of 2017 rides down from 11% in 2016, and car rental lost 8% over the last four quarters from 33% to end the year with 25% of the category total.

The year-end Certify SpendSmart™ Report also provides analysis of expense category spending benchmarks for 2017, both as a percent of total travel and entertainment spending and average cost per transaction by expense category. Get all the latest facts and figures in the infographic below:

Certify Spendsmart Year in Review Infographic Q4 2017

Want to know more? Access current and archived business travel trends and spending data on the SpendSmart™ Report webpage. If you have any questions, or to find out all the ways Certify makes travel and expense easy for businesses of every size, contact us today.