How Is the Sharing Economy Changing the Game for Small Business Travel? [Infographic]

June 29, 2017


Using FreshBooks data, we wanted to know: How are on-the-go FreshBooks customers adapting to the sharing economy? Here are our findings.

Welcome to the sharing economy; a place where ride-hailing apps and home-sharing ads have become the new norm. In the corporate world, policies have changed dramatically to accommodate the new shift in business travel, which now widely accepts the use of ride apps (like Uber or Lyft) and hotel alternatives (like Airbnb). But for small business owners—the bread and butter of who we serve at FreshBooks—are we seeing the same, dramatic shift?

We wanted to find out: How are FreshBooks customers adapting to the sharing economy? We teamed up with our data analysts to collect the numbers, which are illustrated in the infographic below.

Welcome to the sharing economy; a place where ride-hailing apps and home-sharing ads have become the new norm.

From Point A to Point B: Taxi vs. Uber

Once upon a time, taxi ruled the way non-share-riders got around the city. If you were traveling for business, chances are you relied on a taxicab to take you from the airport to your hotel and back. But with innovative services for travel—like Uber—we’ve made way for a new economy: The sharing economy. Using FreshBooks data, we came across some interesting numbers on the use of taxicabs versus Uber over the last 4 years. In 2014, FreshBooks customers expensed taxi receipts 3 to 1. However, today the number is completely reversed; FreshBooks small business owners are more likely to expense Uber rides 3:1.

Year-Over-Year Breakdown

  • 2014: The number of small business owners using taxi over Uber was 3:1
  • 2015: The number of small business owners using taxi or Uber was 1:1
  • 2016: The number of small business owners using Uber over taxi was 2:1
  • Present: The number of small business owners using Uber over taxi is 3:1

A Place to Stay: Hotel vs. Airbnb

Over the last few years, Airbnb has been all the rage for the unconventional traveler. A stay at one of these home-share spots means you’ll be immersed in the city’s lifestyle and stay like a local—oftentimes, for a decent penny. But while Airbnb is popular among leisurely travelers, has it had the same effect for small business travelers?



Our FreshBooks data shows that, while Airbnb bookings have risen since 2014, hotels are still the clear, preferred method for overnight accommodations.

Year-Over-Year Breakdown

  • 2014: The number of small business owners booking hotel vs. Airbnb 16:1
  • 2015: The number of small business owners booking hotel vs. Airbnb 9:1
  • 2016: The number of small business owners booking hotel vs. Airbnb 8:1
  • Present: The number of small business owners booking hotel vs. Airbnb 6:1

The Sharing Economy Has Steadily Influenced Small Business Travel

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Based on our findings, we’ve seen a dramatic advancement in the use of ride-hailing apps, as FreshBooks travelers are now nearly 3-times more likely to choose Uber over a local taxi service. Compared to the numbers in 2014, we saw the complete opposite. Riders were 3-times more likely to hail a cab than request an Uber.

On the other hand for overnight accommodations, FreshBooks travelers still highly prefer to book their out-of-town stays with major hotel chains. However, we are seeing a slow but upward trend in the number of Airbnb bookings since 2014.

Why the dramatic shift in Uber-use, but the slower climb in the number of Airbnb stays?

Uber’s ease-of-use sets them apart from the competition. Directly from the app, riders can simply request an Uber, choose the size of the vehicle, track when the ride will arrive and enter their credit card information for easy payments. Their simple, innovative approach is changing the way we get from Point A to Point B, and small business travelers are quickly latching on.

For overnight accommodations, however, hotel loyalty programs, as well as individual company policies may be keeping small business owners from siding with home-sharing services like Airbnb. It will be interesting to see if this number continues to climb or if future policies force it to plateau in the future.

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about the author

FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.