Small and midsize businesses traveled more often than their large-market counterparts, purchasing more air tickets (37 percent), meals (29 percent) and rental cars (65 percent), according to a report from integrated travel and expense management solutions provider Concur.
The report found that SMB travelers filed 9 percent fewer lodging transactions per quarter than enterprise travelers, and uncovered other differences between SMB and large companies, including the fact that SMB travelers spent more on average per quarter in 2012 for travel and entertainment (T&E) expenses in every major category, including airfare (14 percent), dining (18 percent), lodging (21 percent) and car rentals (57 percent).
Concur discovered that despite paying more for airline-related products and services, companies still spent 4.5 percent less overall per traveler per quarter in 2012 than they did in 2011. A key reason for this was a significant drop in fourth-quarter spending.
"While 2012 was generally a year of tighter budgets for U.S. travelers, the sudden and extreme decline in Q4 T&E spend in particular is a bit of an outlier," Robert Mahowald, vice president of cloud services at IT research firm IDC, said in a statement. "The dip is likely due to a set of exogenous macro-economic events, such as the impact of Hurricane Sandy, uncertainty about the U.S. presidential election in November, and the 'fiscal cliff' negotiations that extended into the first days of 2013, rather than any broad corporate efforts to cut back on T&E spend."
Hotel spending accounted for the highest share (24 percent) of all international spend, while airfare expenses accounted for the highest share of all U.S. spend. Concur found spending in almost all expense types declined at least slightly, including dining, which fell 11.1 percent; car rental, which dropped 9.1 percent; and airfare, which fell 8.2 percent. Hotel spending dropped the least, sliding by just 3.8 percent.
The most expensive U.S. cities for business travel in 2012 were New York City; San Francisco; Garden City, N.Y.; Washington, D.C.; Boston; Long Island; Chicago; Miami; Las Vegas; and Santa Clara, Calif. The most expensive international city for business travel was Brisbane, Australia, followed by Tokyo and Sydney, Australia.
The report also found corporate travelers spent 93 percent more on ancillary fees such as baggage and onboard entertainment in 2012 ($58 million) than they did in 2011 ($30 million)—challenging companies with nearly twice as much hidden or low-visibility spend.
"The second-largest controllable spend for most companies is T&E—making visibility into this area mission critical. The report is designed to do just that," Robson Grieve, executive vice president of worldwide marketing for Concur, said in a statement. "For instance, our data shows us that SMBs are more active on average than large market companies due to the fact they file expense transactions nearly 17 percent more frequently and spend almost 25 percent more on the road. This underscores the importance of deeper insight and analysis into T&E spend to negotiate better prices, manage expense policies and improve efficiencies."
Mobile devices were also found to be a growing aspect of companies' expense management processes as log-ins to the Concur mobile expense app more than tripled from 2011 to 2012. The study found nearly 73 percent of these log-ins were via Apple iOS, while Android (14.6 percent) and BlackBerry (12.7 percent) were also popular.