What business travelers like is not always what they buy

Business travelers prefer flying Seattle-based Alaska Airlines over any other carrier, but Delta and United Airlines carry the most business travelers in the U.S.

Business travelers also love the gourmet sandwiches at Jimmy John’s eateries, but most of their expensed meals are eaten at Starbucks or McDonald’s.

These are among the findings of a new report by Certify, a Portland, Maine-based expense management company that processes 1.5 million business expense transactions each month.

Certify analyzes how much and where business travelers spend company money. But the firm also asks road warriors to rate the businesses they frequent while on the road.

Of all the food expense reports analyzed by Certify, the greatest number were at Starbucks (5.3%), followed by McDonald’s (2.8%). But Jimmy John’s got the top ranking, 4.5 on a scale of 1 to 5, even though it did not make the top 10 for total expenses.

Nearly 21% of all airline expenses were for flights on Delta, with 14% for flights on United, according to Certify. But when business travelers were asked to rank airlines, Alaska got the top score of 4.6, followed by Southwest with 4.3.

The top-rated businesses may not always be those that are most often used by business travelers because such eateries and carriers may not be widely available or may not be part of a corporate travel plan, said Robert Neveu, president and chief executive of Certify.

That may change, he said.

“More and more, travel managers are trying to use vendors that their travelers prefer,” he said.

Alaska Airlines hopes so.

“We’re always seeking new opportunities for business contracts, and we do have major business contracts with many large corporate customers throughout the Pacific Northwest and up and down the West Coast,” said Mark Bocchi, Alaska Airlines' managing director of sales and community marketing.


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