Whether they make a dozen trips a year or more than 50, business travelers have their preferences from hotels to airlines and even fast food joints. Since these are generally allowable business expenses, they also keep pretty good records that can be analyzed.
That’s what cloud-based travel and expense management software provider Certify does in its business spending reports. The report, now in its seventh consecutive quarter, tracks spending across major categories such as food, airlines, lodging and car rentals and highlights top vendors for business travelers. For the third quarter of 2014, the most frequently expensed vendors included Starbucks, McDonald’s, Subway, Hampton Inn, Marriott, Delta, United and National Car Rental.
More love for Starbucks: The pervasive coffee chain gained 84 cents more per purchase over Q2 and $1.32 more per purchase over the same period last year, according to receipts. The company’s ubiquity, vast drink menu and growing menu choices continue to be popular with business travelers.
McDonald’s hold its own, Dunkin’ Donuts edges up: Even though global fast food chain McDonald’s has seen a decline in U.S. sales in recent months, receipts grew with business travelers, from 2.68% of all meals expensed in Q2 to 2.99% in Q3. Meanwhile, Dunkin’ Donuts edged back into the Top Five Restaurant category, beating out airport vendor HMS Host. The 64-year old chain, which also sells coffee and sandwiches, has one of the highest average meal costs of the top restaurant vendors, at more than $11 per receipt.
Lunch rules: The most expensed meal is lunch, at 37% of all meal expenses compared to 28% for dinner and 34% for breakfast.
Delta Airlines, National Car Rental and Marriott win with sales and customers: Delta and National had the unique distinction of being the number-one expensed and highest rated (by users) company, in their respective categories. Marriott and Courtyard by Marriott were the only hotel chains that made both the top-expensed list and top-rated lists.
“Our latest SpendSmart report shows that while entrenched brands have an advantage with business travelers, there’s still room to shake things up in our consumer economy,” says Robert Neveu, CEO of Certify. “Dunkin’ Donuts kicked HMS Host off the top restaurant list and Hilton is no longer a top-expensed hotel vendor. Restaurants, hotels and transportation companies must be always thinking about what customers want and surprising them.”
- Starbucks: 4.57% of expenses, averaging $10.83 per receipt
- McDonalds’s: 2.99%, averaging $7.66
- Subway: 1.80%, averaging $14.99
- Panera Bread: 1.60%, averaging $37.61
- Dunkin’ Donuts 1.2%, averaging $11.34
Most Expensed Restaurants by Meal
- Breakfast: Starbucks, 13.59%
- Lunch: McDonalds, 3.28%
- Dinner: McDonalds, 1.54%
Top Rated Restaurants (On a scale from 1 to 5, as indicated by travelers)
- Olive Garden 4.5
- Chick-Fil-A 4.4
- Chipotle 4.3
- Panera 4.2
- Dunkin’ Donuts 4.1
- Hampton Inn: 8.68%, of expenses, averaging $216.93
- Marriott: 8.33% averaging $244.94
- Courtyard by Marriott: 6.10%, averaging $168.12
- Holiday Inn: 4.27%, averaging $174.19
- Holiday Inn Express: 4.07%, averaging $215.67
Top Rated Hotels
- Westin 4.3
- Marriott 4.1
- Courtyard by Marriott 4.1
- Hilton Garden Inn 4.1
- Hyatt 4.1
Most Expensed Airlines
- Delta: 21.11%, averaging $420.27
- United: 14.29% averaging $446.82
- American: 9.79% averaging $387.63
- US Airways 9.31%, averaging $313.63
- Alaska: 1.08% averaging $253.07
Top Rated Airlines
- Delta 4.0
- Alaska 3.0
- American 3.5
- US Airways 3.5
- United 3.0
Most Expensed Car-Rental Services
- National: 22.03%, averaging $183.59
- Avis: 15.97%, averaging $189.10
Hertz: 13.95%, averaging $219.25
- Enterprise: 12.35%, averaging $199.46
- Budget: 4.25%, averaging $215.58
Top Rated Car-Rental Services
- National: 4.1
- Avis: 4.0
- Enterprise: 3.9
- Hertz: 3.8
- Budget: 3.8
The full data can be viewed on the Certify website at https://www.certify.com/SpendSmart_Working.aspx.