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Museum of Contemporary Art masters event management

Museum of Contemporary Art masters event management
October 8, 2014

Thanks to its prime harbour-front location on Sydney's Circular Quay and in the wake of a recent $53 million dollar facelift, the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) is a venue in constant demand, not least because of its dedication to exhibiting, collecting and interpreting the work of today’s artists.

Approximately 500 functions catering for anywhere between 100 and 700 attendees are held at the Museum every year, with over 90% of the functions being repeat business or the result of word of mouth recommendation. 

The majority of events occur within the four dedicated function rooms but occasionally, if demand is there, Venue Manager, Brent Moseley, is able to take advantage of pop up space elsewhere in the building. 

Peak function season begins with the Melbourne Cup in November and continues through to mid-January when the Festival of Sydney is in full swing. 

However, as Moseley notes "we're pretty much busy all year round.” 

This is important because, as a largely self-funded museum, venue hire is an important source of revenue.

Maintaining control across multiple venues
For Moseley and his small team of four, keeping up to five concurrent functions on track is made manageable with the help of Priava, a purpose-built cloud-based venue and event management software system. 

The system combines diary and booking features, event management, financial management and reporting, and customer relationship management functionality. It enables MCA staff to efficiently handle enquiries and to quickly identify available space, possible upcoming functions and confirmed events. 

From the moment a query appears likely to result in a booking, all data about the client and the function is entered into Priava. When the booking is confirmed the system automatically generates a contract and issues an invoice. 

Priava then produces a variety of reports for all MCA staff involved in an event. This ensures everyone knows key times and requirements for the event, as well as what third-party suppliers to expect on site, what they will be bringing and at what time. 

While Moseley uses the reports to know what is going on in the building at any given time, he understands how important it is not to inundate other staff with too much information. Therefore, over time he has tailored the report formats to ensure each person receives only the information that is relevant to their job. 

Improving client service and profitability 
Moseley suggests one major benefit offered by Priava is the accuracy and availability of financial information, such as profit and loss reports. 

He explains “the system is very good for reporting and monitoring financials. 

“I have to report regularly to the board to show how we are tracking financially. 

“I can use the system to see trends, to show where we are at now compared to say, 10 years ago and I can do it all in just a few clicks.”

The sales information such as lost or confirmed business is also periodically analysed to help identify the strategies and tactics that are working, and to see where problems may be occurring. 

Priava's contact database provides staff with a central source of information about each client and their histories, including preferences and details about previous events. “We can know how past events have been done and we can do it again to the clients' specifications,” Moseley notes. 

Always evolving 
MCA has been using Priava in one form or other for nearly 15 years. Over that time the software has evolved from its initial incarnation as the Functions Perfect booking system, through to Events Perfect and now, the more comprehensive event and bookings management system, Priava. Each evolution has marked the introduction of improved processes and new, more efficient technologies. 

Moseley says the Museum has remained with the software all this time because, stating “support has been very good and the basis of the system is very user friendly. 

“We have a wide range of skill sets at MCA, so it is very helpful to have something that is so easy to use. 

“It can be as advanced or as simple as the user can drive it, and it gets the job done. “

When new staff come on board, they are trained online and that's all they need to get started.”

At present use of Priava is largely confined to MCA's Venues Department but Moseley is gradually introducing the system to other areas of the business. 

He concludes “we can see some cross-over and potential for the software in different areas within the organisation. 

“It would be good to have Priava used across the board so instead of dealing with multiple calendars and schedules, we could have all events information on one system.”

For more information on Priava call 02 8383 4333 (in Australia) or +44 845 0744 250 (United Kingdom), E:,



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