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Uber and Lyft Pound Taxis, Rental Cars In Business Travel Market

February 23,2018 05:24

Car-sharing companies Uber and Lyft are rapidly becoming the 800-pound gorillas of U.S. ground transportation for business travelers. And like any good pair of 800-pound gorillas, they continue to pound the opposition. In this case, it's rental car ...and more »



Michael Goldstein , Contributor I cover the travel biz: airlines, hotels, rental cars and destinations Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

The Lyft ride-sharing app is seen on a mobile phone on February 12, 2018.  (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Car-sharing companies Uber and Lyft are rapidly becoming the 800-pound gorillas of U.S. ground transportation for business travelers.  And like any good pair of 800-pound gorillas, they continue to pound the opposition. In this case, it's rental car providers and taxis taking the beating, according to a new report by travel and entertainment expense management software company Certify.
The study, based on analysis of some 50 million receipts showed that for 2017, the ride-hailing pair accounted for 68% of overall ground transportation expenses.  Uber had 56% of all ground transportation receipts/expenses, a category that also included taxis and car rental services.  Uber’s share grew slightly over 2016 when it had 52% of the market. However, the real market tiger in terms of growth was Lyft, which grew from 4% in 2016 to 12% in 2017.
Uber was the most expensed brand of all in the survey, with 9% of all receipts/expenses, followed by Starbucks (the most-expensed restaurant) at 4%.
Looking at an ever-shrinking share of the ground transportation pie were the long-suffering car rental and taxi companies.  In 2016, car rentals were 33% of all ground transportation receipts/expenses. In 2017, car rentals comprised only 25%.
The picture was equally dismal for the once-ubiquitous taxicab. While taxis accounted for 11% of ground transportation expenses in 2016, they had slipped to just 7% by 2017. In fact, the only area where taxis led in the survey was in having the most costly average fare: the average cost of a taxi ride was $31.64, while the average Uber ride was $25.10 and the average Lyft fare was $20.63.

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Interesting, while ride-sharing has clearly been embraced by the business traveler, other aspects of the so-called ‘sharing economy’ have not been. According to Certify, while expensing Airbnb stays have nearly doubled each year since 2014, Airbnb receipts represented just .5% of the lodging category overall in 2017.  By contrast, Hampton Inn had 8.95% of lodging receipts, Marriott 8.48%, Courtyard by Marriott: 7.4%, Holiday Inn Express: 4.63% and Hilton Garden Inn, 4.47%.

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