How business travelers are spending their companies’ money when on the road has shifted as they look to use the same travel platforms they prefer as leisure travelers when they’re on-the-go for business.
A look at 2016 travel and entertainment expense trends from Certify shows that Airbnb transactions have doubled year-over-year since 2014 and Uber rides now account for more than half of overall ground transportation transactions.
“The growing preference for sharing economy services like Uber and, to a lesser degree, Airbnb really underscores the trend toward consumerization of traditional corporate travel,” said Certify CEO Robert Neveu. “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.”
Uber was also the most expensed company overall in Q4 2016, among Certify’s accounts, outranking business travel staples like Starbucks, with six percent of transactions. Certify does not include car service expenses in its report, however, which could skew its ground transportation numbers overall.
Here are the three most important corporate travel trends found in Certify’s reports on 2016 overall and quarterly trends.
Airbnb is increasing in popularity for business travelers
While Airbnb still represents a minuscule percentage, one percent, of overall lodging bookings in business travel, the service is seeing growth headed into 2017. Certify’s data show that Airbnb transactions doubled year-over-year since 2014, with longer stays of 4.51 nights compared to 2.58 nights at traditional hotels.
“While still under 1 percent of the total, Airbnb’s growth is significant in this context,” the report reads. “For example, Certify reports on the top 15 hotels by expense percentage with Hampton Inn in the number one spot at 8.82 percent and Residence Inn in last place with 1.18 percent.”
In other words, even with it’s small share in business travel, Airbnb is already approaching the level of less popular hotels.
Uber still dominates ground transportation
Trends from early 2016 held true over the course of the year: Uber is dominating business travel ground transportation at the expense of taxis and car rentals. The good news for lagging competitors in this area is that since spending overall is increasing, they’re not being completely pushed out of the space.
U.S. Biz Travelers’ Percentage of Ground Transport Transactions
|Q4 2015||Q4 2016||FY 2016 Growth|
Uber remained the cheapest option in the space, with an average transaction value of $24.75 compared to $24.99 for Lyft and $34.62 for taxis (Certify doesn’t track car service spending at all).
Uber’s newfound lead in overall transactions among all categories shows the scope to which it has become vital to business travelers on a budget.
Meals and airfares got more expensive
Average cost per transaction data show that hotel bookings are becoming cheaper when compared to 2015, while most other categories except ground transportation are becoming more pricy on average.