The sort of fondue you are talking about doing is a bourguignonne fondue (Fondue - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
) and you should use hot oil which you bring to heat on the stove and then place on your fondue heater. The pan for a bourguignonne is a metal saucepan so it should be able to be heated directly on the stove top.
There is a lot of preparation in a bourguignonne fondue by the time you have prepped your meat/seafood, parcooked the veges (that need it, eg potato but not eg broccoli or snow peas) and trimmed the ones you don't, made your sauces and other accompaniments, as well as the salads or rices etc. Sure you can just slop it all down but not really good when entertaining.
Bourguignonne fondues are the only type of fondue I do and I have been doing them about once a year on average for about twenty years. (Too many "do's" in there!!) I only have the gel burner and have never tried an electric. For two people, I find that we almost finish one canister of gel. For about four people, get through one and a half-ish. I always give two or three forks per person as well as standard cutlery. Don't eat from the dipping fork (apart from the double-dip bit, it will burn your mouth in a bourguignonne fondue).
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I usually have a bowl of tempura batter by the side of the fondue for lovely crisp tempura-d seafood and veges. If you use oil, make sure you have removed the water from any meat/veges as it will spit.
With the gel burner, once you have the hot oil over the flame, you want to keep the oil hot enough to ensure the food cooks, also allowing for the addition of cold ingredients which will lower the heat, but not so hot that the oil is active. My gel burner usually operates on quarter open at first and then up to half open. If it gets too cool, then back on the stove for a quick reheat. Very rarely do I have to do that and before it gets to that stage, I will have the gel fully open, but again doesn't happen often as i usually monitor throughout the meal.
If all this seems a bit labour intensive for your evening (and it might be better to just do it for a couple the first time) how about a Chinese Steamboat? (Kylie Kwong: Steamboat