Situated in the heart of Christchurch, The Isaac Theatre Royal opened in 1908. A 106 year old Historic Edwardian Heritage Theatre with up to 1292 seats, the ‘ITR’ is the chosen home for Royal NZ Ballet, NZ Opera, Showbiz Christchurch, Christchurch Arts Festival, The Imperial Russian Ballet, and numerous international touring productions.
Following the devastating earthquakes of 2011, a huge restoration project was undertaken and the entire auditorium and foyer areas of the Theatre were spectacularly rebuilt and restored. Many important heritage features were retained including the magnificent original 1908 painted ceiling dome, the façade and the 1928 marble staircase. Following restoration to its superb original Edwardian-style, the Theatre went on to win two prestigious property awards at the 2015 Property Council New Zealand and Rider Levett Bucknall Awards held in Auckland. More recently the theatre was recognised by the Champion Canterbury Business Awards 2016 winning ‘Retail/Hospitality Small Enterprise’ for ‘dynamic professionals providing a phenomenal customer experience’ as well as The Press Champion Canterbury Supreme Small Enterprise Award and the Entertainment Venues Association of NZ Supreme Venue of the Year Award and Medium Sized Venue of the Year Award at the annual 2016 EVANZ conference.
The Isaac Theatre Royal, with its stunning interiors, flexible catering options and full bar facilities provides guests with unique and versatile entertainment spaces, and is a premier venue for a broad range of functions from performing arts through to hospitality events and also wedding receptions.
Event Delivery & Client Relations Manager at Isaac Theatre Royal, Freya Alexander, explains why they needed to invest in new technology, “Before the re-building of the theatre after the earthquakes the small management team used to be reliant on a very basic Microsoft Word/Excel system for booking and managing events. It was impossible to access easily or share knowledge across the events team and all the information was stored locally on a hard drive. Luckily that hard drive was recovered after the quakes. Prior to re-opening of the main theatre auditorium in late 2014, and with additional venue spaces such as The Gloucester Rooms, we had already received a large number of bookings. This was already around 50% higher than previously, so it was obvious we needed a more modern venue and events management solution to support this growth.”
"The whole team has real-time access to up-to-date information from any location and they can see at a glance what is going on across all the spaces in the theatre from the grand circle foyer right through to main stage."
Event Delivery & Client Relations Manager
Isaac Theatre Royal
According to Freya, back in 2010, before the earthquake hit, the concept of a cloud-based solution did not exist, but by 2015 the new team were aware that such a system could enable all event booking information to be stored externally and also address the issue of providing controlled and easy access by the events team, senior management and external partners.
Freya comments on the decision to select Priava, “We were impressed by both the company and the product’s capabilities. As one of the first theatrical performance venues in NZ to use the software, and with a brand new venue, the ITR wanted to be on the cusp of engaging the most innovative technology available and felt that it could support the team to manage a higher number of bookings and at the same time deliver an exceptional service to our clients, from touring companies through to corporates or members of the public.”
Once Priava was selected the team began to migrate all the necessary spreadsheets and word documents on to the new system including all the bookings for 2015, 2016 and beyond. The original 4 (and now 8-strong) events management team were given some basic face-to-face training on the core functionality such as managing the calendaring and setting up events sheets.
“The training was really good and we liked the fact that Priava pre-tailored those sessions towards theatres and demonstrated how the system would work with a real life show or event, putting it more into context” says Freya, “Members of the team that had been with the theatre prior to the rebuild and were used to the old methods, found the system really intuitive and easy to pick up, so everyone got on board quickly. As many of the ITR team have multiple roles we need to maximise our resources and have the ability to switch easily from one activity to another, something that Priava allows us to do effortlessly. With the reduction in administration it saves us a significant amount of time. And as the old adage says ‘Time is money’, so we are more financially effective and resourceful as well”
According to Freya all the staff agree that the system really caters to the particular needs of the theatre. “We used to run an ‘industry-mode’ pencil system to handle bookings where we would have ‘first pencil’ and ‘second pencil’ etc, but this now seems redundant with Priava and we’ve been able to introduce a much more practical solution of Expressions of Interest with colour coding to determine a final confirmation. We recognised early on that Priava is a very sophisticated system with plenty of functionality, but at the same time we find it simple to use.”
The introduction of Priava has transformed how the theatre books and manages its events. “The events sheet is brilliant” says Freya, “We have all the information we need in one place, showing us a rundown of what’s happening and we simply click a button and we can email a report to everyone involved. The whole team has real-time access to up-to-date information from any location and they can see at a glance what is going on across all the spaces in the theatre from the grand circle foyer right through to main stage. So whether it is a performance, a small fringe theatre production, a corporate function, wedding, party or gig, everything is recorded in one system.”
The benefits that the Isaac Theatre Royal has achieved through the use of the Priava cloud-based venue management solution so far include:
“The customer support from Priava has been excellent and we are always made to feel that we are a valued client and all our comments and input are being listened to. It’s great to know that there is community of fellow venues out there that are all helping to develop the product. We also love the regular updates and short ‘how-to..’ videos that show new functionality which we can quickly take advantage of.”
“We get in and log in… Priava acts as the consistent ‘bible’ for the ITR events team and ensures we manage it, and that it ensures everything runs smoothly and everyone is in the same cloud!”