Disruptive brands are still making waves in corporate America

Disruptive brands are still making waves in corporate America

With the corporate travel industry surpassing one trillion dollars—and growing—you can understand why the quarterly Certify SpendSmart Report™ has been utilized by industry publications and organizations to benchmark their T&E spend.

The report, now in its sixth year, tracks the most popular airline, lodging, meal, and transportation services among North American organizations and business travelers. After analyzing more than 240 million expenses and receipts that have passed through the Certify system since 2013, we have charted massive industry shifts. Disruptive brands like Uber have now become ingrained in the world of business travel.

We’ve seen new players, such as scooter companies and meal delivery services, start to follow in the disruptive wake of brands like Uber and Lyft—building on their momentum. This quarter, Lyft has overtaken Amazon on the most expensed vendors list for the very first time.

Lyft Rises Above Amazon
When we first started watching Uber moving into the ground transportation market in 2014, and officially started tracking its rise in the ride hailing category in 2015, we couldn’t imagine just how much their service would go on to shape industry expectations.

This quarter, we’ve seen Lyft overtake Amazon in the most expensed vendors list for the first time. Lyft is now the third most expensed brand, securing 3.75% of receipts compared to Amazon’s 3.63%. Digital-first brands have been steadily climbing up the ranks since 2015, but it wasn’t until this quarter that Uber, Lyft, and Amazon all made it as the top five most expensed vendors in the same quarter. Uber has remained the most expensed vendor since 2016, and this quarter accounts for 12.71% of all expenses.

Top Rated Vendors Stay Consistent
Despite the disruption, business travelers and organizations have also shown consistency during the six years we’ve produced this report.

Starbucks is once again the second most expensed brand this quarter with 4.01% of all receipts and an average cost of $12.94. It’s also the most expensed breakfast option with a staggering 17.93% of all breakfast expenses. McDonald’s remains consistent as the top lunch spot with 2.83% of receipts and an average cost of $10.28.

In the lodging category, Marriott is the most expensed hotel with 10.30% of all receipts—interestingly it’s also the most expensive at an average cost of $306.50. Hampton Inn falls close behind with 8.99% of receipts, but their average expense is significantly lower at just $249.25. Marriott ties the quarter with Hyatt in user reviews, scoring 4.5 stars out of 5-stars. We’ll watch these ratings closely as hotels continue to merge and offer new personalized rewards programs.

Airlines also remain stable in the second quarter. Delta is our fifth most expensed vendor overall and most expensed airline with 19.57% of all receipts for the category and an average cost of $437.61. American isn’t far behind with 18.83% of expenses, tailed closely by United with 14.97%.
JetBlue and Southwest tie this quarter for the highest rated airline. Southwest is the fourth most expensed airline with 11.22% of receipts and an average cost of $293.72. While JetBlue remains a deeply beloved brand, it hasn’t graced our most expensed airlines list since Q2 2017.

Lime Zips Past Bird
When scooters first started to show up in expense reports, at first it was a surprise—it doesn’t exactly fit the image of a suit-wearing business traveler. Yet they continue to show up. And as the category grows into new metro areas, we bet their popularity will only increase—whether by thrill-seeking business travelers, or the public.

This quarter Lime moves ahead of Bird to take first place with 57.50% of all receipts for the category. This is an increase of more than 15% compared to Q2 2019, highlighting the dynamism in the market and just how quickly things change.

Razor holds onto third place for the category with 7.59% of receipts. Two newcomers to our list may soon disrupt this order; Skip secures 3.79% of receipts while Spin lags behind with 0.95% of expenses.

As with other disruptive forces, the introduction of scooters to city streets hasn’t been all good news. While they provide a spectacular way to close the last-mile gap, they’re notoriously quick to break down, and most cities lack regulations which has led to safety concerns. Whether we’ll see this trend continue to grow or begin to fizzle out will depend on how cities and companies adapt.

High-Quality Meals, Delivered
Meals have always been a staple of the business T&E world—it’s the most expensed category of all in our annual 2018 SpendSmart Report. A good meal boosts team morale, shores up new business—and strengthens partnerships. And when you’re a tired business traveler, what could be better than having a great local restaurant deliver a meal right to your hotel or office door?

This quarter we’ve seen some stabilization in the food delivery category. Grubhub once again tops the list with 27.39% of all transactions compared to runner-up DoorDash (23.88%) and Uber Eats in third place (21.72%). Courier company Postmates holds fourth place (12.34%), followed by Caviar (9.03%), and Seamless (5.64%).

While Seamless is the least-expensed delivery service, it’s the most expensive overall with an average cost of $133.26. Caviar wins second place with an average cost of $103.83, followed by Gubhub at $64.53 and closely trailed by DoorDash with an average cost of $63.41. Average costs for Postmates and Uber Eats come in at $60.91 and $30.19 respectively. DoorDash takes top marks for its ratings this quarter, scoring 4.9 stars out of 5-stars and unseating Caviar as the highest rated food delivery service.

As corporate travel and expense evolves we’ll keep analyzing that aggregated data and spotting the trends before they change the industry. We’ll be watching to see if the momentous rise of Amazon, Lyft, and Uber are signs of yet more disruption to come.

How does travel and expense at your company compare with our benchmarks? Find out if your spending matches industry averages by downloading our Q2 2019 SpendSmart™ report and infographics here.