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Rewriting history

By   /  February 9, 2017  /  Comments Off on Rewriting history

Venues steeped in tradition and history are embracing 21st century technology to cater to contemporary events from around the country and the world, writes Brittney Levinson.

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Photo: Luna Park Sydney.

For Luna Park Sydney, this year has been a successful one, attracting a mix of international and domestic events to the 81-year-old venue.

Luna Park Sydney general manager sales James Granter says the park is attracting a diverse range of events in both the lifestyle and corporate space.

“We’re seeing events that are expanding out beyond the traditional four walls booking and utilising the greater precinct of Luna Park in general,” he says.

“Even in the traditional sort of exhibition space, organisers are looking beyond the traditional three by three stands and they’re utilising the wider park for that as well.

“Having the greater precinct allows us to introduce elements of the event within our grounds, potentially utilising some of the rides and our show time team for a unique experience.”

While the park itself thrives on its historic charm, this year it has embraced new technology to realign with the industry’s changing needs.

Luna Park’s wi-fi connectivity and audio visual equipment was recently upgraded and new digital signage is currently being installed.
“The digital signage is really hi-tech equipment with screens in various locations throughout the park that will facilitate any event that’s held here in terms of branding opportunities for clients and also allowing them utilise wider areas of the park, direct staff and display what’s on at different times for exhibitions,” says Granter.

Photo: Queen’s Hall at State Library Victoria.

With its history dating back to the late 1800s, Customs House Brisbane has been hosting functions and business events for over 20 years.

The iconic building this year unveiled a new function space, The River Room, complete with views spanning the Brisbane River and Story Bridge. The new space flows out onto the waterfront terrace and can be adapted to host events of up to 200 guests.

Customs House director Brian Roberts says feedback about the new space has been positive, and already it is gaining popularity among corporate clients in particular.

“It has large double doors that link out to the river so that area can be used either for pre-dinner drinks before an event, or for an all-day meeting people can break out and get some fresh air and have morning tea or lunch out by the river,” he says.

The space is fitted with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment, including three high definition data projectors with built in widescreens, HDMI connections, touch panel controls, and wi-fi availability.

“The execution of presentations is so important, so having that state-of-the-art technology means people are confident that their message will be portrayed to the guests attending the event,” says Roberts.

Photo: The River Room at Customs House Brisbane.

The new space will be catered to by the Customs House catering team, which was recently awarded Caterer of the Year at the 2016 Savour Australia Restaurant and Catering Hostplus Awards for Excellence.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to win that award three times in the last four years,” says Roberts.

“I think it really cements us as not just one of the top venues in Brisbane but rather one of the top venues in Australia.”

With an accolade like that, it comes as no surprise that next year Customs House will participate in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards, which is being hosted in Melbourne for the first time. As the host of the Queensland leg of the event, Customs House will welcome chefs, media and delegates from all over the world, showcasing the venue on an international level.

For the State Library Victoria, the majority of events come from the domestic market, however commercial manager Alix Massina says the Library is looking at ways to attract more international events.

“We’re certainly working more and more closely with Melbourne Convention Bureau and Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre to try and attract international delegates into Melbourne and offer those unique Victorian experiences to complement other things that are happening around the city,” she says.

Among the State Library’s 22 interconnecting buildings dating back to the 1850s, the Experimedia Room offers a heritage event space with 21st century touches.

The versatile space features a six-metre media wall and fully integrated audio visual equipment, as well as a dedicated event technician on hand.

Massina says it’s not just the architecture and technology alone that sets the Library apart from other Melbourne venues,
but also the rich collection of books, photographs and other objects that can be integrated into events.

“More and more we’re finding clients looking for very bespoke, money-can’t-buy experiences that we’re able to put together through exhibition viewings or tours but also up-close, white glove experiences with parts of collection that aren’t normally on display,” she says.

“We add into that our beautiful venues as well as really creative catering concepts that our caterer, food&desire, bring to the table as well.

“We’ve done some really exciting things with them where their executive chef has viewed material out of our manuscripts and then interpreted that into menu items for our events.”

The Library will soon commence an $83 million redevelopment project called Vision 2020, which will see programs and facilities upgraded, and public rooms and event spaces reinstated.

The Library’s original building, Queen’s Hall, will be fully restored as a public reading room that will be on par with some of the great reading rooms around the world, according to Massina.

“It’s very exciting that it will reopen as a library space but it’s also being designed with a really smart event overlay,” she says.

“There’ll be storage and kitchen facilities, and ‘plug and play’ audio visual throughout the venue so that it can turn over very quickly from its day job of being a reading room for library users to being an amazing event space in the evening.”

Photo: The River Room at Customs House Brisbane and State Library Victoria.

 

Despite a plethora of brand new convention and event spaces opening their doors around the country, the level of interest in heritage venues isn’t fading, according to Granter.

He says with the opening of the new International Convention Centre Sydney, overseas interest in Luna Park has increased.

“It’s obviously early days but certainly we’re seeing some really positive signs in terms of forward bookings,” he says.

He says it isn’t just the venue’s location that attracts international guests, but it’s the heritage factor that draws groups in.

“We’re used to promoting the grounds and the precinct, the quality of the food and the waterfront location but we’re having quite a lot of feedback and interest from international guests, particularly Asia and the US, about the heritage aspect of the park,” he says.

Granter believes the heritage aspect is something Australians aren’t particularly used to talking about.

“We’re a young country and we don’t talk a lot about our heritage,” he says.

“But the story of Luna Park and the story of greater Sydney really comes to the fore because when people come to Sydney
for an event they want to identify with the place and feel like they’ve had an experience and are taking a piece of history with them.”

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  • Published: 6 months ago on February 9, 2017
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  • Last Modified: February 9, 2017 @ 2:36 pm
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