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Certify Sees Some Changes in Business Expense Trends

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July 24, 2014

Travel and expense management software provider Certify has published the results of its latest quarterly report on the most frequently expensed vendors on business expense reports.

The most-expensed vendors from the second quarter of the year include Starbucks, Delta,  Marriott, National Car Rental, along with Costco, Shell and Amazon.

Meals accounted for 21 percent of all travel and entertainment receipts, followed by airlines (16 percent), hotels (13 percent) and car rentals (5 percent).

The top movers from last quarter include Subway, which gained the third most-expensed meal vendor spot, beating out Panera; Chick-fil-A, upending Jimmy Jones for the top-rated restaurant; and Seamless, which replaced Starbucks as the most-expensed restaurant vendor in New York City.

Fast food chains continue to entice business travelers, who submitted most of their receipts from Starbucks and McDonalds. Hyatt earned the top-rated hotel spot, while Hilton was rated as the third most-preferred hotel: neither chain made the list in Q1. Finally, Southwest regained its heady stature as the people’s favorite (though not most-expensed) airline.

This quarter’s analysis for the first time reveals top vendors in the general expense category, defined as products and services such as cell phone, gas, groceries, office supplies and taxis. Costco topped the general expense category, winning 7 percent of those expenses but followed closely by AT&T and Shell, both at 5 percent.

The top cities for business travelers as represented by percentage of total receipts were Chicago (4 percent) followed by Houston (3 percent), New York and Dallas (tied for 2 percent) and Los Angeles and Philadelphia (both at 1 percent).

The cheapest place for dinner on the road is Philadelphia, averaging $37, while the cheapest lodging is in Dallas at an average of $205 per night. The priciest town for dinner and hotel is, as always, New York at an average of $71 for dinner and $422 per night for hotel, while Houston came in as the next highest city at $315 per night. The best deal for dinner and lodging over a 24-hour period was Dallas, at $245.

Q2 Highlights:

Most-Expensed Restaurants:

Starbucks:                     4.76 percent of expenses, averaging $9.99 per receipt
McDonalds’s:                2.68 percent, averaging $8.17
Subway:                         1.67 percent, averaging $16.99
Panera Bread:              1.61 percent, averaging $39.83
HMS Host:                     1.16 percent, averaging $16.18 

Most Expensed Restaurants by Meal

Breakfast:                      Starbucks, 13.09 percent
Lunch:                            McDonalds, 3.13 percent
Dinner:                            McDonalds, 1.68 percent

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

Chick-Fil-A                   4.3
Chipotle                       4.2
Dunkin’ Donuts          4.1
Olive Garden               4.1
Starbucks                    4.0

Most-Expensed Hotels

Marriott:                        8.66 percent of expenses, averaging $240.74
Hampton Inn:              7.94 percent, averaging $205.44
Courtyard by Marriott: 5.63 percent, averaging $171.08
Hilton:                           4.37 percent, averaging $211.94
Holiday Inn:                  4.27 percent, averaging $163.04

Top Rated Hotels

Hyatt                            4.3
Marriott                        4.2
Hilton                           4.1
Westin                         4.1
Hilton Garden Inns    4.0

Most Expensed Airlines

Delta:                            20.51 percent, averaging $419.56
United:                         14.36 percent  averaging $432.01
American:                    10.67 percent  averaging $376.60
Southwest                   10.4 percent    averaging $314.78
US Airways:                 9.56 percent  averaging $300.80


Top Rated Airlines

Southwest                   4.4
Alaska                          4.1
Delta                            4.0
American Airlines      3.6
United                          3.5

Most Expensed Car-Rental Services

National:                      20.45 percent, averaging $180.51
Avis:                             15.48 percent, averaging $177.64
Hertz:                           15.4 percent, averaging $215.24
Enterprise:                  12.49 percent, averaging $186.18
Budget:                        4.45 percent, averaging $196.34

Top Rated Car-Rental Services

National:                      4.2
Enterprise:                  4.0
Avis:                             3.9
Hertz:                           3.6

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