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Reflections from Luna Park Sydney Venues

Released by Luna Park Sydney Venues on Monday, 25 June 2018


June 2018

The trend of “better, faster, cheaper” is a constant and remains a mantra for clients and their events. They want quality, speed, availability and space to grow on a budget. As an event venue partner or supplier, we can only achieve this through constantly innovation and improvement of what we do.

Clients are increasingly prioritising the need for efficiency in program timing. Start and finish times are more exact, and clients increasingly understand that their time-poor guests need the content to be relevant and to the point.

Clients increasingly want their events to really stand out and are looking for a point of difference – to attract guests, to be competitive and to ensure they meet their specific event aims. As a venue partner, Luna Park looks for our unique points of difference that can add to events, and we look to become a partner not just a host. Offering to share supplier contacts, co-promote events and tailor menus and service are some ways we try to be a great partner and help our client stand out.

There is an increasing convergence of business and consumer approaches with events. We encourage clients to look beyond the event times and program itself. What does a guest do before and after the event finishes?

Clients increasingly need and want to create an emotional connection, an experience for guests  - even for more traditionally formal business events. They need to stand out and uincrease guests satisfaction and repeat patronage. Networking is very important – it helps ensure guest satisfaction and event success. It is not enough to just create a networking opportunity, clients want to facilitate it. They look to venue partners like us for help to better facilitate networking. Through venue choice, value-add activities, the proximity of post-event restaurants and bars. At Luna Park, we work with clients on how they can use our wider entertainment precinct to accommodate this. We work with them on transport options. Water, coach, train or car are all options and we have a number of packages available from our transit partners that we can offer. We can also help clients start their event experience when they board the ship (for example) or arrive at our wharf, not just when they enter our venues. It is a way to generate hype, facilitate networking and help them create something special, a lasting memory for guests. I believe this is driven by an increasing need for clients to create an emotional connection with their events.

Clients and guests are also increasingly more diverse in both their demographic and their needs. Things like good accessibility options, a diverse range of dietaries as standard, broad wine selections, cultural menus and precinct signage are no longer a want or “nice to have”. They are a requirement, a must have.

I see a trend in the event market in Australia towards a greater recognition of our heritage, which goes beyond the standard welcome to country recognising indigenous owners that we are used to hearing now at the beginning of an event program. Increasingly I see people wanting to promote who we are, what makes us Australian and incorporating that into things like menus, wine selections and the broader program and event experience itself. It is a pride and a maturity as a nation, that I think still has some way to go, but is noticeably showing itself in our industry. 

·    Thoughts on Food

Food is at the heart of the success of every event we host at Luna Park.

Our culinary offering at Luna park over the years has evolved to offer a much broader range of regional Australian menus and selections, which are clearly labelled. It is a way for us to help promote Sydney and Australia, while also offering a story and a taste of another Australian place as part of their meal.

We need to cater for a very diverse range of dietaries is constantly evolving and we make this available on all our menus, while also making some allowance for these on the day, for guests who did not specify their requirements pre-event.

Cultural menus today are incredibly important, and our menu selections has significantly expanded to include various Asian, Indian-inspired, Meditteranean and European options.

Finally, clients tastes have changed in terms of their appetite for different food items. Food has become part of the event display, not something back of house and clients are much less conservative and formal than we were ten years ago in terms of what is acceptable formats for food serving and delivery. Luna Park today offers a vast range of options from mobile cooking and catering stations, carveries, unique and interesting substantial canapes, diverse desert and mini-desert options, and the ability to offer our corporate guests tailored offerings from our precinct’s retail food outlets so that guests can enjoy the park experience in addition to their venue.  

Favourite events at the Park

Amway China in 2017 saw us serve a premium Australia seafood experience and traditional Asian family style menu to 8,500 of our neighbours from China. Many of our guests had never been to another country before and many lived in provincial China, not from large cities. It was very special to see the sheer delight on the faces of guests as they arrived at Luna Park with our stilt walkers and park entertainers to greet them, before being ushered into one of our many ballrooms for a specifically designed feast. When dinner was over, guests were given exclusive use of Luna Park rides and games where they were served desert from one of our many mobile desert stations. As night time fell, they watched an extraordinary Sydney harbour spectacular from our grounds which included mermaids on our boardwalk, Flyboards Articsts with pyrotechnics streaming from their backs appearing from the water, and two large tallship sailing into view with an acrobatic show on display from their masts. All this while enjoying the Luna Park grounds from where they could see the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge and city lights in the background. The event generated something like 200,000 photos on WeChat and was something really special.

Hosting the King and Queen of Denmark to commemorate Dirk Hartog’s Voyage of Discovery was also something very special. His and Her Royal Highness met the local community for an invite-only celebration in our Crystal Palace ballroom in October last year. It was a spectacular way for Denmark to showcase Sydney and Sydney Harbour with the maritime link for the event, while also tasting our tailored Australian selection of fine wine and fine dining. I also got to meet the “Royal Taster” who travels the world to make sure that any venue host meets the royal standard. I have never been so envious of another persons job.   

Finally, our long association with the NSW Department of Premier and Cabinet, and the many events their team has hosted hear is a very special partnership for us. We have hosted the official Australia Day corporate lunches and many networking events. They keep the theming simple, elegant and effective which serves to highlight the beautiful Sydney harbour backdrop in our venues. And it is wonderful to be part of these events that have an outstanding program that looks to celebrate what it is to be Australian. It is always an inspiring privilege to be part of them.

Reflections on ‘Best Achievement in Venue Management award’ 

It was wonderful for our team to be recognised and I genuinely believe the award was 14 years in the making (we officially re-opened as a Sydney event and entertainment precinct in 2004). We have some incredibly talented people many of whom have been hear from the beginning and have moved around into many varied roles within Luna Park Sydney which gives them very broad and unique experience.  At the end of the day, success always comes down to people and culture and was well deserved.

From a culture perspective, we do a lot of work to recruit, train and reward customer focus in everything we do. We talk a lot about ensuring guests “experience the magic” and we have some really effective staff recognition programs that we run, that I think strike a great balance between reward and recognition in a fun and engaging way. It’s a weekly and monthly program everyone participates in and is very popular. 

My favourite venue....

We now have thirteen events spaces at Luna Park and everyone of them is entirely different, so picking a favourite venue is a very difficult because it really does depend on the size and type of event.

Despite so many new and renovated venues though, my personal favourite is an oldie and a goodie – our heritage listed Crystal Palace. It is so unique with high ceiling and arched windows, a very versatile space.

My favourite Sydney spot for a drink/bite to eat..............

The Deck Sydney is a great Mediterranean style restaurant at Luna Park with some of the best views in Sydney and one I often frequent! But with that plug aside, I’ll put this down as being “at my desk” so it is disqualified….

My favourite restaurant in the Sydney CBD is Mr Wongs in the heart of the city. Tucked away in a lane way, it offers beautiful cantonese-style menus and a great wine list. Predictably as part of the Merivale Group, Justin Hemmes has done a brilliant job transforming this old cellar into a two level Colonial-style outfit which oozes atmosphere.

My favourite restaurant outside of Sydney CBD, and closer to my home in southern Sydney is a beautiful French restaurant called Larousse. Great French food (even if you don’t like snails), intimate setting ideal for couples and my personal choice for special occasions. I have many memories there.