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Accounting & Audit

Business Travelers Rank Favorite Restaurants, Airlines and Hotels

The quarterly report shows how and where business travelers spend the "company dime," from hotels and airlines, to favorite fast food restaurants, car rental companies and yes, even taxi-style car service providers.

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Ride-sharing service Uber has definitely shaken up the way many people in urban areas get around, and not just for personal travel. That’s according to results results from the latest business spending report from cloud travel and expense management software provider Certify, which covered the fourth quarter of 2014.

The quarterly report shows how and where business travelers spend the “company dime,” from hotels and airlines, to favorite fast food restaurants, car rental companies and yes, even taxi-style car service providers.

Surprisingly, Uber’s taxi and ridesharing services costs were higher that traditional taxicabs, averaging $32.48 per trip via Uber, versus $30.58 for taxis. Still, Uber may also be posing a threat to car rental companies; the service was expensed 127 percent more often than the most-frequently expensed car rental company, National.

Price Spikes Across the Board for Business Travel

From meals to hotels, companies are paying more to send employees on the road. Marriott was the most-expensed hotel in the last two years, but the average cost of a stay at one of its properties rose from $225.43 in 2013 to $240.47 in 2014. The average visit to Starbucks for business travelers rose by nearly a dollar, from $9.58 in 2013 to $10.45 in 2014. The average cost of booking a trip on Delta, consistently one of the top airline vendors in the past eight quarters, rose from $390.72 to $413.53 in 2014.

Name brands pursue their dominance: Despite lower than expected results in fall 2014 earnings reports, top restaurant vendors in terms of receipts for Q4 include Starbucks, McDonalds and Panera Bread. Other top-expensed business travel vendors include Marriott, National and Delta.

“A stronger economy is positive for companies, yet for a variety of reasons, food, hospitality and transportation prices are on the rise. That’s squeezing corporate budgets, which might result in more discretion with travel this year,” says Robert Neveu, CEO of Certify. “Still, upstarts like Uber show that there is potential for new travel-related services to challenge long-standing vendors by bringing convenience and great pricing to business travelers.”

Q4 Highlights:

Most-Expensed Restaurants:

Starbucks: 4.63% of expenses, averaging $10.44 per receipt
McDonald’s: 2.86%, averaging $8.00
Panera Bread: 1.53%, averaging $39.65
Subway: 1.59%, averaging $15.70
Dunkin’ Donuts: 1.28%, averaging $12.16

Most Expensed Restaurants by Meal

Breakfast: Starbucks 12.98%
Lunch: Subway 3.18%
Dinner: McDonald’s 1.69%

Top Rated Restaurants (On a scale from 1 to 5, as indicated by travelers)

Chipotle 4.3
Chick-Fil-A 4.2
Jimmy John’s 4.1
Panera Bread 4.1
Starbucks 4.1

Most Expensed Airlines (Airfare comprised 15% of receipts)

Delta: 20.05%, averaging $403.46
United: 14.19%, averaging $411.11
American: 10.95%, averaging $363.63
Southwest: 09.29%, averaging $297.04
US Airways: 08.79%, averaging $302.46

Top Rated Airlines

Alaska 4.4
Southwest 4.4
Delta 4.2
American 3.7
U.S. Airways 3.7

Most-Expensed Hotels (Lodging comprised 14% of receipts)

Marriott: 8.72%, of expenses, averaging $242.69
Hampton Inn: 8.13% averaging $212.74
Courtyard by Marriott: 6.33%, averaging $168.24
Holiday Inn: 4.11%, averaging $170.38
Holiday Inn Express: 3.88%, averaging $211.35

Top Rated Hotels

Embassy Suites 4.4
Marriott 4.3
Residence Inn 4.3
Courtyard by Marriott 4.1
Hilton Garden Inn 4.1

Most Expensed Car-Rental Services (Car rentals comprised 5% of receipts)

National: 23.21%, averaging $176.50
Avis: 15.40%, averaging $180.81
Enterprise: 14.43%, averaging $185.42
Hertz: 13.81%, averaging $218.79
Budget: 03.64%, averaging $180.59

Top Rated Car-Rental Services

National: 4.3
Enterprise: 4.2
Avis: 4.0
Budget: 3.9
Hertz: 3.9

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The quarterly Certify SpendSmartReport analyzes vendors, expense amounts and satisfaction rating data on business expenses collected directly from end users. Certify SpendSmart reports on millions of receipts and expenses, delivering valuable insights to Certify clients and the business travel and expense industry at large. Certify has been tracking corporate travel and expense data since 2009 and uniquely offers integrated travel booking, travel and expense management and reimbursement in one system.

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