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7 Reflections on the American Market as seen from Europe

The election is done. The results will be set by Mid-December. A vaccine is coming to the US, but only in mid to late 2021. The road ahead is long, and here are our 7 Truths for looking at the US market from abroad:

1. Don’t Focus on Travel Professionals: As the pandemic shuts down corporate travel, the industry was impacted.  

The industry was already struggling in the US; and now is on life support- with no new supports from the US government, it is likely that many agents will not survive the winter. Some 88% may fail.

2. Don’t bank on the 1 million Americans who came to Portugal in 2019 to come back in 2021. Current estimates show the industry won’t see a rebound until 2023. Plus, a lack of refunds and cancelled flights has rubbed some travelers the wrong way. 

The lack of refunds and support could hurt the brand, and slow the return of US travel to Portugal in the coming years.

3. Branding: Some need to rethink brand. While Iceland, Costa Rica, and Ireland have brands built on the outdoors; hiking and a rugged natural world, Portugal, for example, built its brand on Lisbon, a city. That won’t help in the short term, and could hurt recovery.

4. Think relocation: There is a massive move afoot of Americans ready to leave the US for a few simple reasons: Healthcare (health costs in the US are out of control), retirement, the US has a high cost of living, political, the Trump revocation is making many people rethink the safety of living in the US, and education, one year at a US college costs more than 4 in Europe. Many are looking at Portugal, not to visit - but to live.

5. High end – the first to return will be high-end travelers, looking for rural luxury, not urban or crowded mass tourism destinations. Mass tourism, cruise tourism and bus tours are frozen in time. Think cycling, hiking and villas, not big hotels, big pools and elevators.

6. Luso-Americans are the only ones who can travel to Portugal now and in the near tem – so target them, renew old contacts- they are the backbone of travel to Portugal right now.

7. Race matters. Destinations that have a history of racism or overlooking racial disparities will have issues to deal with on social media. So, stop talking about Discoveries or empires forged on slavery. Americans will want to escape that.

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