Greg Chase has returned to his alma mater a handful of times to share his expertise with University of Missouri students on proper dining etiquette in a business setting. Chase graduated with a degree in hospitality management from Mizzou in 2007, and is certified by the Protocol School of Washington as a corporate etiquette and international protocol consultant.
Chase’s most recent trip to MU happened in March, with him offering advice on how students should conduct themselves during a meal in a professional setting – especially in light of the pandemic.
“Given where the world has gone – going from being isolated to ramping up face-to-face interactions – first impressions are even more important,” Chase said. “There’s definitely a heightened sense during personal engagements and interactions. This has always been a popular topic, and I think it’s become even more important as we get back to gathering in-person.”
The dining workshop featured a four-course meal for those in attendance, as the event included students, hospitality management faculty and event sponsors. Chase led the meal and offered step-by-step instructions for each course. He explained how each course should be handled and offered tips on everything from napkin placement to the best way to hold silverware.
“This is definitely unique content and to be able to share these insights is really rewarding for me,” Chase said. “These are skills that the students will be able to use throughout their lifetime – not just in business settings.
“It’s also fun to get back to campus. I feel like it’s important to give back to the students and share those industry experiences.”
A total of nine hospitality companies sponsored the event: Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch; Lodging Hospitality Management; Drury Plaza Hotel in Columbia; Tiger Hotel; A-1 Party and Event Rental; Le Meridien Hotel; US Foods; Bellerive Country Club St. Louis. Representatives from each company were spread throughout the workshop, interacting with multiple students and sharing insights about the industry.
“I feel that, to an extent, proper etiquette practices are slowly disappearing in everyday life,” said Gina Vekkos, a senior studying hospitality management. “I personally like the formality of proper etiquette – I think it brings purpose to gatherings. We all know our ‘Pleases’ and ‘Thank Yous’ but going that extra mile to make sure your guests or clients are comfortable gives so much more of a lasting impression. I am hoping that my future career allows me to have meals with very important people in a business setting, and I want to better my people skills for this purpose.
“Greg was a fantastic speaker, and I was very grateful to have an experience such as this one.”
Chase gained valuable hospitality experience at Walt Disney World and MGM Resorts International after graduating from MU. Chase also owned an award-winning global consulting practice, Experience Strategy Associates, where he worked with organizations large and small across all industries to design and implement experience management strategies, culture transformation and customer service programs that touched thousands of team members worldwide.
Chase recently took a job with Qualtrics as an experience management catalyst, where he serves as a thought leader. Qualtrics is a leader in experience management technology and strategy.
“It’s exciting to take my years in hospitality and use that to help inspire others to be more creative and put together more enriching experiences for customers and employees across the board,” Chase said. “It is uncharted territory for me, but being able to share information and help others get the most out of their skillsets is going to be rewarding.”
The etiquette training touches on experiential learning, a key part of the RISE Initiative. The RISE Initiative states that all CAFNR undergraduate students will take part in at least one signature experience while on campus: Research, International, Service Learning and Experiential Learning. Experiential learning offers students real-world learning experiences outside of the classroom, through industry engagement, internship programs and learning laboratories.
“I think this hands-on experience was so much better than just a lecture because we got to put the teachings into practice right then and there,” Vekkos said. “I felt that this style of workshop kept us engaged because we had to mimic at some points. I am a visual learner, and I feel that I retain information better when I am doing rather than only listening. The meal also gave us time to discuss what we were learning with everyone at our table, as well as have casual conversations with each other.”