7 insights from looking at 10 million expense reports

Ethan Wolff-Mann
Writer

Companies spend a tremendous amount of money on travel and expenses, and the businesses that process these expenses have a lot of data.

Every quarter, Certify, a popular platform for expense management, puts out a report providing a window into the mindset of the business consumer. This data can paint interesting pictures that can be both unexpected and insightful. Here are 7 key takeaways.

Taxis are down to 10% of market share for business travel

As is to be expected, taxi usage has continued to plummet as Uber dominates, comprising 53% of all receipts—massive market share. Lyft accounts for just 6% of receipts, but it’s coming on strong, seeing 50% more receipts in the first quarter of this year over the end of 2016. The taxi industry now makes up just 10% of business ground travel receipts.

According to Certify CEO Bob Neveu, businesses have fully integrated with ridesharing apps.

“As they’ve become more popular in the marketplace, Uber and Lyft have successfully been added as preferred ground transportation vendors,” he told Yahoo Finance.

The Uber scandal has not had a visible effect

There’s been a significant amount of data that said the Uber scandals haven’t had much affected on ridership, and Certify’s extensive data says that’s true for business expenses.

“We really didn’t see any significant change in ride selection,” Neveu said.

This should not come as a surprise. Companies do not have emotions like individual Uber-boycotters and may also lack the ability to make quick changes to company policy. However, a series of scandals could result in making a change to a vendor’s “preferred” status, cutting a company off from lucrative company use.

As of yet, however, Neveu said there’s no evidence this has happened. “I’m not going to say it didn’t occur,” he said. “But we didn’t see anything statistically.”

No one’s renting cars anymore

Amidst all the Uber vs. Lyft vs. taxi stuff is something that is arguably more interesting—the decline of the rental car. Over the past year, car rentals are down nine percentage points over the past year, declining from 40% to 31% of market share. This is two percentage points down from last 2016’s first quarter.

Clearly, travelers enjoy the convenience of not taking the rental car shuttle to the counter to deal with paperwork, nor returning a car with a full tank of gas. While taxis previously could guarantee that convenience, the difficulty and uncertainty of hailing a taxi proved to be an insurmountable hurdle, keeping rental cars in business. But since the hailing problem is solved by the apps, changes are resonating in this market.

Airbnb still has an uphill battle

Uber and Lyft may be dominating the taxi industry, but fellow disruptor Airbnb is not enjoying anywhere near the dominance. “Ridesharing services are further down the adoption path than say Airbnb,” said Neveu.

On the one hand, Airbnb is accelerating forward, and has grew 31% in the second quarter of this year over the previous quarter. But in reality, it’s not really used a whole lot, capturing just 0.42% of total lodging transactions.

Neveu said that the company is deep into solving the issues of standardizing the hotel experience, which is far more complicated than transportation via car. Short-term stays are much simpler with hotels, which are more coordinated for check-ins.

Beyond that, however, is the issue of “duty of care,” the responsibility a company has with their employees and their safety. “There’s an issue if it’s a person’s private home,” said Neveu. “Is that person going to be safe? How do i get them out of there? So companies are being more selective when to include Airbnb for their business travelers.”

Currently, only situations in which multiple employees rent a larger property like a house for a more than a few days has any popularity—say, for a tradeshow when hotels are gouging.

Chick-Fil-A has extremely devout followers

In addition to cataloging receipts amounts and quantities, the Certify platform has an option where people can rate the businesses. This is where Chick-Fil-A absolutely dominates, beating out all other food providers with an average review of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

“To me it’s amazing that Chick-Fil-A has been the highest rated restaurant vendor since started report [in 2013],” said Neveu. “Quarter after quarter. People who like Chick-Fil-A love it and they give it huge ratings.”

Starbucks is more than just coffee

Starbucks (SBUX) sits right behind Chick-Fil-A in the satisfaction ratings with an average of 4.5 stars, but it has a freakishly high average receipt, considering the cost of an average coffee, of $14.04. Even if people are buying coffees for a group, Neveu said this indicates that Starbucks has been successful in integrating food into their customers’ purchasing habits. If the average is that high, he said, many people are spending a lot more than that.

People can eat anywhere, but they choose Micky D’s

McDonald’s (MCD) also holds a special place in people’s hearts. Even with expense account reimbursement, it’s consistently the most expensed restaurant for lunch and dinner. Neveu has a theory on this besides the fact that people like it.

“Since they installed the nation-wide Wi-Fi, more business travelers are going there,” he said. “You’re on the road you need defensible Wi-Fi and a defensible bathroom. Those two factors are little things, but it does drive business preference.”

Ethan Wolff-Mann is a writer at Yahoo Finance focusing on consumer issues, tech, and personal finance. Follow him on Twitter @ewolffmann. Got a tip? Send it to tips@yahoo-inc.com.

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