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Wisconsin MBA Gains Valuable Experience in Consumer Insights at Orbitz Worldwide

by Rob Kelly Monday, June 1, 2015

Pushkar Raj (MBA ’16) was the first student to participate in a new partnership between the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research at the Wisconsin School of Business and Orbitz Worldwide, an online travel site. Raj executed a monthly questionnaire, developing a repository of questions, establishing the analytical processes to evaluate survey results, writing monthly synopses, and creating documentation to guide future students working on the project.

  Pushkar Raj Wisconsin School of Business UW–Madison Orbitz Worldwide

Pushkar Raj (MBA ’16)

“The new learning for me was exposure to the nuts and bolts of survey questionnaire design,” Raj says. “It’s something that we as marketing research MBA students learn in our first semester, but the Orbitz project assistant assignment helped me tremendously in solidifying that learning.”

Raj was the first student to manage the Orbitz and University of Wisconsin A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research U.S. Traveler Compass Study, a monthly analysis of American travel trends. The surveys are designed and conducted by a student consultant as part of a project assistantship scholarship.

“We try to offer live marketing research projects for students for the work requirement of their project assistantships so they can add to their résumés while they’re in school,” says Kristin Branch, the Center’s director, who works closely with Stacey Symonds, senior director of consumer insights for Orbitz Worldwide and member of the Center’s External Advisory Board, on the project.

 Kristin Branch A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research Wisconsin School of Business UW–Madison” width=

Kristin Branch, Director of the A.C. Nielsen Center for Marketing Research at the Wisconsin School of Business

The project offered Raj the opportunity to work closely with Google Consumer Survey, “a must-have tool for marketing researchers in the future,” Raj says.

Orbitz uses the consumer insights from the study in its external reporting of near-term traveler intent. The data also helps to connect macroeconomic and seasonal factors to demand for travel to both domestic U.S. and international destinations.

“This study allows us to leverage the talent and marketing research training of students from the Center, in addition to generating meaningful insights about U.S. travelers we can share with the media and others in the travel industry,” says Symonds.

The survey data has benefits for all involved: Raj, the School, and Orbitz Worldwide. “The student gets real marketing research experience, the university receives scholarship funding, and Orbitz gets to use monthly travel research and analysis from the UW and the Center,” Branch says. 

To learn more about the A.C. Nielsen Center student consulting program, please contact Kristin Branch.