A budding branch in front of Roosevelt's Wabash Building and the CNA building

In a new study, Roosevelt University professor Dr. Steve Migacz and Texas A&M professor Dr. Angela Durko outline how the coronavirus pandemic has affected travel plans across the nation.

Migacz teaches hospitality and tourism management at Roosevelt University, where his research focuses on service recovery — what firms in the service industry do when a customer transaction goes poorly. Through the project, he and Durko hope to arm the tourism industry with information to inform their next steps, as some travelers cancel their plans and others look forward to their vacations.

“We wanted to explore how this experience had ‘transformed’ the consumer to provide travel industry firms with knowledge to help ensure that they were responding with an effective communication and recovery strategy,” Migacz said.

The two researchers drew from 900 completed national surveys about consumers and their current perceptions of the travel industry. The survey asked travelers how they were impacted by the pandemic, how the industry reps handled canceled plans, what factors were most important to customers moving forward.

Read the full results of the study: “Travel Consumer Feedback and Reflections During COVID-19

“Silver Linings”

A conversation with Migacz’s students — about “positives” in a time that has upended so many lives and plans — became the inspiration for the national study. “When the online transition began, I was frustrated and scared,” the professor said. “I wanted to comfort my students, but I had no idea how. So I asked them, what can we take comfort in?”

Students responded about the connections that had given them solace during the stay-at-home order. Migacz told his colleague at Texas A&M about the experience, and she suggested a study to give the tourism industry insight into what consumers were feeling and expecting as a result of the pandemic.

“I know that, every semester, my students will teach and inspire me more than I will ever teach and inspire them,” he said. “This semester was no exception.” Migacz also credited Dr. Carol Brown, Collete English-Dixon, Brian Margulis and Dr. Ryan Petty for their support and help with the study.

Key Takeaways

  • A world of uncertainty: The freedom of a normal routine and social connections are some of what is most missed during this time. 38% of respondents miss social interaction, especially with extended family.
  • Silver linings: Many respondents shared how they used the pandemic as an opportunity to evaluate their priorities, spend time with family and reflect on self-improvement.
  • Not all travel plans are on hold: 47.5% of respondents had yet to cancel plans for travel this year. Most say they will travel by car to neighboring states.
  • A slow return to normal: Overwhelmingly, respondents remain cautious of many leisure activities, including cruises, international travel, and large gatherings like concerts. Respondents that rigorous, continuous cleaning and empathetic customer service may encourage them to travel sooner.
  • Good news for service providers: Due to the coronavirus, 54% of respondents canceled or changed travel with an industry provider since March 2020. Most travelers agreed they had a positive experience with their canceled plans.

About the Heller College of Business

At the Walter E. Heller College of Business, Roosevelt offers business education with today's economy in mind. Our degrees keep a tight focus on practical application and success in today's global corporate environment that integrates an emphasis on personal and professional integrity, as well as the importance of social responsibility.

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