Etty Scaglia, founder and president of Accent on Dining, is a restaurant, hospitality and tourism expert with years of restaurant experience. She formed the company on the premise that she could help tour companies take the legwork – and guesswork – out of group bookings by forming a partnership directly with restaurants, training them on what groups need from them and how to better serve these clients. She passes along this expertise to tourism industry groups, corporate clients and independent travelers (FITs).
What trends are you seeing in the dining experiences international visitors want?
Memorable experiences are a huge trend. Group dinners might include a cooking class or a brewery that is open just for them.
People are tired of going to the same places, so I make sure my inventory is always full of different experiences.
What types of unusual food experiences can you arrange that ITOs don’t have time to research and others can’t do on their own ?
In addition to restaurant bookings for groups and FITs, I can handle the whole range of food experiences travelers have throughout their visit. I can arrange everything from a picnic in Central Park and chocolates and champagne to cooking classes with a well-known chef and tasting tours through unique heritage areas of a city, like Little Havana in Miami – memorable experiences that they wouldn’t be able to get on their own.
Why would it be beneficial for an ITO to work with you?
Clients are overwhelmed with everything they can do – hotels, Broadway shows and all the choices. When it comes to dining in places like New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., I am a one-stop shop. I come from a restaurant background, so I understand how to negotiate with chefs to create special menus that cater to any group’s needs. Each market needs something special. For example, if you have a pharmacy group, I know exactly where to send them.
I negotiate the prices, do all the legwork, provide the contracts and take care of any cancellations. There is no extra cost to the client, and I will negotiate with the chefs and restaurants to get them in on budget.
How does your membership in IITA benefit your business?
I’ve been a member for more than 20 years, and it’s never disappointed me. It’s been very helpful in promoting my business. You get out of it what you put in, so be sure to get involved. Participate in the summit and other networking opportunities throughout the year. It’s great exposure for your organization.