Certify Releases its Third Annual SpendSmart™ Report on Current Business Travel Spending Trends

Certify Releases its Third Annual SpendSmart™ Report on Current Business Travel Spending Trends
Results for 2015 show Uber ahead of car rental nationally and solid growth for Airbnb, while traditional business travel vendors remain strong in the corporate marketplace
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Kevin Wolf
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TGPR
PORTLAND, MAINE, January 20, 2016—Certify, a leading cloud-based travel and expense management software provider, today announced the results of its third annual SpendSmart™ report for the fourth quarter and full year 2015. Among the findings, ride-hailing giant Uber overcame car rental as a percent of total national ground transportation for the first time in Q4. Prior to the fourth quarter, only San Francisco and Boston reported Uber as having a greater percent of rides than car rental. Also in the sharing economy, lodging services provider Airbnb experienced steady year-over-year growth both in the U.S. and internationally.

The Certify SpendSmart™ report tracks business travel expense spending across major categories such as food, airlines, lodging and car rental. The report highlights top vendors and emerging trends by analyzing data from millions of expenses and receipts processed by the Certify system. Data is compiled each quarter and at the close of each year to help CFOs, controllers, accountants and business travelers make more informed expense management choices.

Taking a closer look at the ride-hailing category, Certify’s 2015 analysis captured Uber’s astronomical growth, as well as a growing presence for its chief competitor, Lyft. Uber is the undisputed ground transportation leader with 41% of the national total in the fourth quarter, compared with 39% for car rental and 20% for taxi. Number two ride-hailing service Lyft accounts for just a small part of total rides, however the company experienced a more than 700% increase in 2015 from the previous year.

For other sharing economy services, SpendSmart data showed Airbnb experienced 261% growth in the U.S. and 249% growth in international destinations for 2015. Top domestic cities for Airbnb were San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Oakland and New York. Internationally, the top cities for Airbnb in 2015 were Vancouver, London, Toronto, Mexico City, and Sydney, Australia. In addition, Certify identified a number of sharing economy companies that are beginning to gain traction among business travelers. While representing only a small part of overall spending, companies like Hotel Tonight, WeWork, Postmates and others were included in the SpendSmart report due to significant growth during the year.

Certify also analyzed expense category spending for 2015 as a percent of total T&E budget and average cost per expense. Included in this analysis are meals, airfare, lodging, gas, miscellaneous, and eight other expense categories. Amounts and percentages for these categories have remained relatively consistent since Certify began analyzing the data in 2013. In 2015, however, there were two clear exceptions. First, the “miscellaneous” category increased 5% over the three-year period to 17% of total spending as a result of Uber’s rising popularity among business travelers (note: Uber is the number one expense in the miscellaneous category and also tracked separately by brand name). Second, the challenges of today’s oil market are reflected in a $13.55 drop per expense for the gas category since 2013.

“In the three years since the Certify SpendSmart Report was first released we’ve seen the relative strength of the economy reflected in key sectors of the business travel market,” said Robert Neveu, CEO, Certify. “Prices have risen steadily along with demand for traditional travel services, and for the most part we haven’t seen a lot of fluctuation in expense amounts or the vendors preferred by most travelers. What we couldn’t have anticipated back in 2013 was the phenomenal growth of Uber and the impact it and other sharing economy services would have on corporate travel today. It’s a story that will continue to unfold for years to come.”

Additional analysis of the more than 9 million receipts and expenses logged by Certify in the fourth quarter of 2015 includes the most expensed and highest rated leading brands for business travelers such as Starbucks, McDonald’s, Subway, Delta, United, Marriott, Hampton Inn, National and Enterprise and more. User ratings and average expense amounts are broken out by category below.

The Certify SpendSmart™ Report provides analysis of vendors, expense amounts and satisfaction rating data from corporate expense reports collected directly from its customer base. Certify SpendSmart™ reports on millions of receipts and expense transactions every quarter, delivering valuable insights to Certify clients and the business travel and expense industry at large. Certify is a premier provider of integrated travel booking, travel and expense management, and reimbursement in one system. Previous quarterly reports are available here.

Fourth Quarter Highlights:
Most-Expensed Restaurants:
Starbucks: 5.17% of expenses, averaging $11.06 per receipt
McDonald’s: 2.84%, averaging $9.51
Panera Bread: 1.62%, averaging $37.79
Subway: 1.49%, averaging $18.37
Dunkin’ Donuts: 1.34%, averaging $12.58


Most Expensed Restaurants by Meal
Breakfast: Starbucks 15.76%
Lunch: McDonald’s 3.46%
Dinner: McDonald’s 1.78%


Top Rated Restaurants (On a scale from 1 to 5, as indicated by travelers)
Chick-Fil-A 4.5
Chipotle 4.3
Starbucks 4.2
Panera Bread 4.2
Jimmy John’s 4.1


Most Expensed Airlines
Delta: 20.02%, averaging $412.13
American: 17.13%, averaging $327.59
United: 14.34%, averaging $386.24
Southwest: 11.08%, averaging $288.27
US Airways: 2.29%, averaging $256.78


Top Rated Airlines
Jet Blue 4.5
Southwest 4.4
Alaska Airlines 4.4
Delta 4.1
American 3.8


Most-Expensed Hotels
Marriott: 9.39% of expenses, averaging $241.46
Hampton Inn: 8.82%, averaging $223.33
Courtyard by Marriott: 7.13%, averaging $166.54
Hilton Garden Inn: 4.38%, averaging $204.95
Holiday Inn Express: 4.24%, averaging $235.75


Top Rated Hotels
Marriott 4.3
Westin 4.3
Hyatt 4.2
Hampton Inn 4.1
Courtyard by Marriott 4.1


Most Expensed Car-Rental Services
National: 24.55%, averaging $177.45
Enterprise: 16.22%, averaging $170.00
Hertz: 15.90%, averaging $189.71
Avis: 14.36%, averaging $178.90
Budget: 4.22%, averaging $179.76


Top Rated Car-Rental Services
Enterprise: 4.3
National: 4.2
Avis: 4.0
Hertz: 3.9
Budget: 3.9


Full Year Highlights:

2015 T&E Budget Breakdown
Meals 19%
Airlines 17%
Misc. 17%
Lodging 14%
Gas 11%
Cell Phone 5%
Car Rental 5%
Supplies 5%
Taxi 3%
Shipping 2%
Tolls 1%
Parking 1%

For complete data and analysis from the SpendSmart Q4 2015 Report, go to: http://www.certify.com/CertifySpendSmartReport.aspx.
About Certify
Certify is the leading online travel and expense management solution for companies of all sizes. Organizations worldwide book travel and complete expense reports quickly, easily, and cost-effectively using Certify cloud and mobile applications. For more information about Certify, please call 207.773.6100 or visit http://www.certify.com.