Ride-hailing gains even more popularity with business travelers – report

Ride-hailing services, which gained the majority of ground transportation dollars among business travelers in 3Q16, continue to gain in popularity, though the balance of power is shifting slightly.

According to automated travel and entertainment expense management software provider Certify’s SpentSmart report for the first quarter of 2017 (1Q17), ride-hailing service Uber gained just a single percentage point from its 53 percent share in 4Q16 while competing service Lyft gained two percent to a six percent market share in 1Q17.

Car rentals continued to decline, dropping from 33 to 31 percent of all paid rides, while the taxi sector continues to be the biggest loser, sliding to just 10 percent of total ground transportation receipts and expenses during the quarter.

Analysts credit cost and convenience of accessibility as reasons for the ride-hailing sector’s success, but caution that other categories of business travel vendors could be just as vulnerable to disruption.

“While convenience and affordability helped propel Uber to the top of the corporate traveler’s preferred vendor list, the latest SpendSmart data shows how leaders in every category can just as quickly find themselves vulnerable to broader trends and growth among the competition,” Robert Neveu, Certify’s CEO, said is a statement accompanying the report.

Although Uber continues to dominate the category and share of rides in major cities throughout the U.S., several factors may be contributing to the slowing of its growth. Market saturation, data and user reviews suggest recent controversies and negative media coverage have all contributed to Uber’s slower growth among business travelers.

The information is contained in the Certify SpendSmart report, which is issued quarterly and 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 more than 10 million receipts and expenses logged by Certify in the first quarter of 2017. 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.

In other categories, Starbucks (NYSE:SBUX) continues to be the most-expensed restaurant overall and for breakfast while McDonald’s is the second-most expensed restaurant overall, but the most expensed for lunch and dinner.

The report also lists top-rated restaurants. On a scale from one to five as indicated by travelers, Chick-Fil-A was rated No. 1 with 4.5 points followed by a four-way tie for second with Dunkin’ Donuts, Olive Garden, Panera Bread and Starbucks.

In the air travel sector, Delta (NYSE:DAL) remains in the No. 1 most expensed airline followed by American (NASDAQ:AAL), Southwest (NYSE:LUV), United (NYSE:UAL) and jetBlue (NASDAQ:JBLU).

Repeating what has been seen in past reports, there was a disconnect between the most-used airlines and those rated the highest by travelers. jetBlue and Alaska Airlines (NYSE:ALK) tied for top spot with 4.6 of a possible five points, followed by Southwest at 4.5 points, Delta at 4.3 and American at 3.9.

As in the ground transportation category, alternative lodging is growing in the hotel category, though much more slowly. Airbnb data shows that the alternative hotelier has accelerated its momentum into 2017 and is now on pace to double its growth over the previous year. Airbnb increased its share of business traveler expenses and receipts 286 percent since 1Q16, as business travelers choose to extend trips, travel in groups or look for accommodations with more of the comforts of home.

However, Airbnb use is not yet widespread enough to place it on the rankings of most-expensed hotels. During 1Q17, those were Hampton Inn, Marriott, Courtyard by Marriott, Holiday Inn Express and Hilton Garden Inn, respectively.


Most-Expensed Restaurants

Starbucks: 4.55 percent of expenses, averaging $12.61 per receipt
McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD): 2.85 percent, averaging $9.03
Panera Bread (NASDAQ:PNRA): 1.73 percent, averaging $43.62
Subway: 1.56 percent, averaging $18.08
Dunkin’ Donuts (NASDAQ:DNKN): 1.40 percent, averaging $13.79

Most Expensed Restaurants by Meal
Breakfast: Starbucks, 16.27 percent
Lunch: McDonald’s, 3.56 percent
Dinner: McDonald’s, 1.86 percent

Top Rated Restaurants (On a scale from 1 to 5, as indicated by travelers)
Chick-Fil-A 4.5
Dunkin’ Donuts 4.3
Olive Garden 4.3
Panera Bread 4.3
Starbucks 4.3

Olive Garden is owned by Darden Restaurants Inc. (NASDAQ:DRI).

Most Expensed Airlines
Delta: 20.36 percent, averaging $420.58
American: 19.62 percent, averaging $338.15
Southwest: 15.51 percent, averaging $276.37
United: 14.10 percent, averaging $382.54
JetBlue: 1.62 percent, averaging $238.67

Top Rated Airlines
JetBlue 4.6
Alaska Airlines 4.6
Southwest 4.5
Delta 4.3
American 3.9

Most-Expensed Hotels
Hampton Inn: 9.40 percent, averaging $227.45
Marriott: 8.54 percent, averaging $260.51
Courtyard by Marriott: 7.76 percent, averaging $174.42
Holiday Inn Express: 4.78 percent, averaging $210.39
Hilton Garden Inn: 4.64 percent, averaging $199.43

Top Rated Hotels
Westin 4.4
Embassy Suites 4.3
Hilton 4.3
Homewood Suites 4.4
Hyatt 4.3

Westin is one of the Starwood Hotels (NYSE:HOT) brands. Hampton Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, Hilton, Homewood Suites and Embassy Suites are owned by Hilton Worldwide (NASDAQ:HLT). Hyatt is NYSE:H while Marriott and Courtyard by Marriott are brands of Marriott International (NASDAQ:MAR).

Most Expensed Car-Rental Services
National: 26.08 percent, averaging $185.09
Enterprise: 17.49 percent, averaging $188.28
Hertz: 13.52 percent, averaging $190.55
Avis: 11.94 percent, averaging $168.74
Budget: 3.62 percent, averaging $181.49

Top Rated Car-Rental Services
Enterprise: 4.4
National: 4.3
Avis: 4.2
Hertz: 4.0
Budget: 3.9

Hertz is (NYSE:HTZ); all other rental car companies are operated by Enterprise Holdings, which is privately held.

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, providing insights to Certify clients and the business travel and expense industry at large.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.

Infographic provided by Certify
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