The ride-hailing app Uber accounts for 52 percent of expenses in the ground transportation category, according to a new report, and is now the most expensed vendor overall across categories.

The expense management software vendor Certify found that Uber climbed 4 percentage points in the fourth quarter from the previous quarter. It's the first time Uber surpassed 50 percent of the total category. For all of last year, Uber took the top spot as the most expensed vendor overall, showing up on 6 percent of all receipts and expenses tracked by Certify’s system in 2016.

For its quarterly and annual Certify SpendSmart report, the company analyzed over 10 million receipts and expenses from Q4. It found that Uber use jumped from 40 percent of all receipts and expenses in Q4 of 2015 to 52 percent in the final quarter of 2016. For the same period, use of Uber’s rival Lyft also grew, going from 2 to 4 percent. In contrast, rental car use declined from 38 to 33 percent, while taxis fell from 20 to 11 percent.

Uber dominates ground transportation expenses

Certify also tracks spending on meals on travel expense reports, and found that Starbucks accounted for 5.10 percent of expenses in the fourth quarter, averaging $12.62 per receipt. That was followed by McDonalds, Panera Bread, Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts, in that order.

However, Uber’s Uber Eats service, which debuted in December 2015, has surpassed them all in the food delivery category, accounting for 6 percent of receipts and expenses for food delivery.

Another sharing economy success story, Airbnb, has similarly made sharp inroads on traditional hotel expenses. While the hotel category is still dominated by hotel chains like Hampton Inn, Marriott, Holiday Inn and Hilton, Airbnb has doubled its share of transactions each year since 2014. In 2016, Airbnb accounted for 0.27 percent of expenses and receipts in the hotel category overall.

While that was less than 1 percent of the total, its growth is still significant compared to traditional hotels. Among the top 15 hotels, Hampton Inn took the number one spot at 8.82 percent of expenses. Assuming a similar or slightly improved growth rate, Certify expects Airbnb could approach the top 15 most expensed hotels sometime late next year. In terms of average room nights, business travelers stayed longer with Airbnb compared to traditional hotels: 4.51 nights at Airbnb venues compared to 2.58 nights at hotels.

“Business travel got a lot more personal in 2016,” said Certify CEO Robert Neveu in a statement. “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. 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.”

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn

Michael Cohn, editor-in-chief of AccountingToday.com, has been covering business and technology for a variety of publications since 1985.