Special Events

Current Events

The latest news from the special event industry Consultants Create Alliance on the Web Sandi Cottrell, Paul Flackett, CITE, John Udell and Bob Vitagliano, CITE, joined forces in July to create a consulting-based Web site (www.fource.org) for the incentive and hospitality industry.

Cottrell of San Diego-based Sandi Cottrell Consulting said each consultant has a different area of expertise that complements the others'. She specializes in marketing and media relations programs. Flackett of PF.Redseven in Worcester, England, manages trade shows and corporate retreats. Udell of New York-based Allied Hospitality Marketing develops marketing and sales programs for hotels, DMCs and other hospitality businesses. Vitagliano develops sales training and marketing programs for incentive companies at V Associates in San Juan Capistrano, Calif.

"I think there's an awareness that if you don't have an Internet presence, you are missing opportunities," Cottrell said. "Between the four of us, we thought we could create a full-service consulting site."

Visitors to the site can read information about each consultant to decide if one or all of the consultants fit their needs. And, "If we don't have the expertise, we can put the client in touch with someone who does," Cottrell said. "It's a growing trend to outsource special aspects of an event. We have a lot of help we can offer."

Allied Hospitality is considering creating a site to link to fource.org, Cottrell said. The three other consultants' companies don't operate sites.

Cottrell does not yet have an estimate of how much business the consultants will get from the partnership.

Outback Steakhouse Inc. will premiere its grand-scale A La Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa, Fla., next month, offering catering for groups of 350 or more.

Earlier this year, Outback acquired A La Carte Catering, based in Tampa. A La Carte will be housed in the 44,000-square-foot pavilion at 4050 Dana Shore Drive, Tampa, according to A La Carte's Steve Schmalhorst. His wife, Laura, founder of the catering company, is the corporate chef. Kurt Taylor is the executive chef.

Schmalhorst, who is in charge of operations for A La Carte, said the 30-year-old pavilion is being renovated to include air-walls so that the 16,000-square-foot ballroom can be divided into four rooms. Clients can also reserve space on an outdoor terrace or in the gardens, allowing for six events on the same day. "We can accommodate groups up to 4,500," he said.

Schmalhorst said A La Carte approached Outback with the idea for upscale catering in a large facility more than a year ago. "The Tampa market has such a lack of facilities for people to have events in," he said.

In addition to catering, A La Carte's staff of 55 full-time employees offers entertainment, decor, floral design and invitations.

Also, A La Carte formed a strategic alliance with Patti Coons & Associates of Orlando, Fla., to bring event production and planning to the facility.

"Steve and Laura's reputation as the premier caterers in Tampa and Outback's vision to understand the event industry's needs made a perfect partnering venture," Coons said.

"We expect to do between $3 1/2 million and $5 million by the end of 2001," Schmalhorst noted. "We are booking events into 2002 and 2003."

Outback Catering will also house a division in the pavilion, according to president Sam Tancredi. Ryan Osgood and Jeff Shorter are executive chefs.

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