The business travel landscape that we knew at the beginning of 2018 isn't the one we're familiar with now. With the new year steadily approaching and younger generations heading into the workforce, it's set to change again. For those of us who the travel industry impacts, you have an edge when you are aware of what to expect.

Whether you're the company sending your employee on a trip or the employee going on the trip, knowing where the travel industry is heading is a vital part of your work. Before we head into 2019, here are a few business travel trends to be aware of.

Increased mixing of business travel and leisure

No longer are the days where business trips are strictly business. Instead of going home after they've completed their business trip, travelers are now staying a few extra days to enjoy the area. Even in 2018, we saw more business travelers starting to participate in bleisure travel--and for good reasons. Unwinding at the end of a business meeting, whether successful or not, helps lower stress and boost morale.

Although bleisure travel isn't limited to the younger generations, Millennials and members of Generation Z want to experience more from their business trips. As more of the latter are starting their careers in 2019, while paying the differences between their  subsidized vs unsubsidized student loans, expect to see even more employees extending their business trips in favor of leisure. Work and play are important.

When reviewing travel policies for the upcoming year, businesses can include a section about bleisure that shows that they care for their employees. Though, like anything that mixes business with pleasure, it's up to each business to determine where to draw the line.

Use of the sharing economy set to rise

As more business travelers take part in bleisure, they no longer want to experience an area from inside a taxi or hotel. To avoid missing out on experiences, more travelers are opting into riding with an Uber or Lyft driver and booking accommodations with Airbnb. They do this so they can explore the area they're in more by mingling with locals.

In addition to this, business travelers want a more personalized experienced. To some, nothing shouts mundane more than going on a business trip, staying in a hotel, and going to the meeting being held downstairs in the hotel conference room.

In 2019, businesses should discuss with their travel managers about the possibility of adding the sharing economy to travel policies. Because of this and more jobs moving to remote availability, expect to see more shared work stations pop up around communities. Get the best of both worlds by using the best Chase credit cards to earn points for all of the purchases you'd normally make if you were sticking to one brands. This way, you still earn perks.

Increase in demand for self-booking

In 2019, expect to see more business travelers wanting to plan every aspect of their business trip. As mentioned earlier, more and more travelers want a more personalized traveling experience.

Self-booking is when business travelers get to schedule their entire trip, not including the meeting itself, based on their needs and wants. Since more companies and startups are geared towards making personalized business trips easier on both fronts, this is something to watch and prepare for next year.

Increased use of Artificial Intelligence

As the demand for personalization increases, so does AI's role in it. One of the most interesting features of AI is that it can gather information from thousands of business travelers, cluster the information based on certain factors, and predict what a group of travelers might like.

Expect to see an increase in technology not just when planning a trip, but also in everyday interactions. For instance, you may notice apps as the sole form of payment and designated machines instead of agents while traveling through airports and bus terminals. 

Increased focus on security

Though not a widely discussed topic, travel risk management is certainly something that should be given the acknowledgment it deserves in 2019. On the surface, a data breach might seem like an attempt to hack someone's personal information. But on a deeper level, it can be disastrous for both employee and company alike.

From one hack, a cybercriminal can obtain information about the employee's credit cards, addresses, and passports. They also can interpret sensitive business information and meeting locations that aren't for public knowledge.

The IT department can assist travelers by educating them on how to avoid breaches, explaining what to do if they occur and informing them on the next logical step. Dangers don't subside because business travelers are around. In the upcoming year, it's up to companies to find a middle ground to protect their employees while on business trips.

Although no one can predict the future, this forecast can help you determine your travel strategy moving forward. By utilizing this information, you can stay ahead of the market and increase employee satisfaction.

Published on: Dec 12, 2018
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.