A new report on business travel expenses says Uber rides now account for more than half of all ground transportation spending, citing this as an example of a “transformational change” taking place among road warriors.
Certify, a leading provider of travel and entertainment expense management and reporting, has issued its annual report for business travel spending trends in 2016, and it found that a new company has vaulted into the top spot as the “most expensed vendor”—not an airline or a hotel chain, but ride-sharing giant Uber.
The company said the “exploding popularity” of Uber among business travelers enabled the ride-sharing network to capture 6 percent of all receipts and expenses tracked by Certify last year.
According to Certify, the Uber juggernaut among business travelers was “the biggest story of 2016.” It said that among various ground transportation alternatives – taxis, rental cars, Uber and Lyft – Uber accounted for 52 percent of all expensed spending in the fourth quarter of last year, while Lyft grabbed 4 percent.
Comparing the fourth quarter of 2016 with the same period a year earlier, Certify said Uber’s share of the ground transportation segment jumped from 40 percent to 52 percent and Lyft’s from 2 percent to 4 percent, while the share for taxis plunged from 20 percent to 11 percent, and the share for rental cars dropped from 38 percent to 33 percent.
Looking to the lodging segment, Certify saw a similar but smaller trend for Airbnb, which it describes as an “alternative hotelier.” While Airbnb hasn’t yet broken into the top 15 most-expensed lodging brands, it is moving up fast, doubling its share of business traveler transactions each year since 2014.
“Assuming a similar or slightly improved growth rate, Certify expects Airbnb could approach the top 15 most expensed hotels sometime late next year,” the company said. “Looking at average room nights, business travelers also stayed longer with Airbnb compared to traditional hotels; 4.51 to 2.58 nights, respectively.”
Certify CEO Robert Neveu said business travelers’ increasing preference for “sharing economy” providers like Uber and Airbnb “underscores the trend toward consumerization of traditional corporate travel. Advances in personal technologies and travel-based smartphone apps have made it easier for business travelers to choose the experiences and vendors they prefer. And the companies they work for are following suit with expanded travel policy guidelines to accommodate new services and payment methods. More than a footnote in history, it’s the kind of transformational change that will continue to shape the industry for years to come.”
The company’s analysis of spending covers more than 10 million receipts and expenses logged per quarter by travelers at Certify’s client companies, including business meals, air fare, hotels, gas, ground transportation and several other categories.