The Swan River, arguably one of Perth’s most beautiful locations, attracts thousands of visitors every year. Its natural beauty combined with the intensely active lifestyle of the nearby residents provides the perfect recipe for success, particularly for business that operate on the waterfront. Acqua Viva on the Swan, one of Perth’s finest establishments for corporate functions and special events alike, is one of those businesses that has developed a strong clientele and a solid reputation along the shoreline.
Christian Tinelli, the venue’s manager, talked to us about what makes Acqua Viva unique and how it has developed over the years. In the 1920s, the venue’s current location was used as a facility for swimming lessons. A few decades later, a major redevelopment turned it into a restaurant. And 12 years ago, Christian and his father Umberto decided to take over and turn it into the conference and events centre of choice for a considerable percentage of Perth’s corporate and private sectors. Though it took them a couple of years to establish a foundation and attract people to the previously shuttered location, the Tinelli touch won their visitors over in the end.
A long history in hospitality
Growing up, Christian was always on the inside of the hospitality industry. After all, his father has been involved in the industry for more than 30 years, establishing several different venues throughout his career. And though Christian initially wanted to focus on studying dentistry, he decided to focus on Acqua Viva instead. Christian, his father, and his sister are now all involved in the family business and their work has attracted rave feedback from every guest that has walked through their venue’s doors.
Acqua Viva is conveniently located on top of the river and is only accessible via a jetty. The function centre is split up into three different areas; a bar, a private dining room, and the main dining room. The layout of the venue has been purposefully designed such as that all the rooms are close together in order to accommodate larger functions. However, each room is suited to different events. The bar lounge area, for instance, is a fantastic choice for cockstail-style functions as it can host up to 90 guests. The private dining is the best choice for more intimate events such as small weddings, private parties, birthdays, christenings, and more. The entire room is surrounded by floor to ceiling glass windows and it can seat up to 35 guests at a time.
Finally, the main dining room can accommodate either up to 150 guests with a dance floor or 180 guests without. The rooms are all fully equipped with furniture of the highest quality, including white leather chairs, lounges, silver and white ottomans, and coffee tables. The décor is neutral with hints of elegance throughout. The atmosphere is friendly, warm, yet also highly professional. As such, it serves for a wide range of events from the most professional to the most private. Furthermore, the style allows for extremely flexibility in personal theming and colour preference, allowing guests to make the function centre as personalized as they possibly can.
Delivering outstanding customer service with a personal touch
Acqua Viva also hosts a number of different events to demonstrate the facilities:
“In August, we are doing a wedding day launch which happens once per year. It showcases the venue to potential couples who are looking to book a venue. There are wine tastings and a selection of canapes. We also set up the rooms to show them the different ways in which the venue can be utilized. We also do a similar event for the corporate sector”, says Christian.
Delivering outstanding customer service and satisfaction is a multifaceted affair that has to be carefully managed and maintained. At Acqua Viva, guests can expect a personalized approach from the moment they make their initial query. The venue has three dedicated employees who work at the office and who maintain close contact with the clients from the first phone call to the actual night of the function and beyond. According to Christian, their service is very prompt and professional which provides a good point of difference.
Aside from those factors, the other main things that set Acqua Viva apart from the competition are its position on the Swan River and the personal touch that Christian and his father provide for their guests. First of all, the location offers stunning views of nature and the city of Perth, something that a very limited number of venues can offer. Furthermore, the owner-operators are actively involved in the venue. They meet and greet guests on their arrival, chat with them during their events to make sure that everything is up to par, and greet them off once their event has come to an end. Their active involvement is a rare sight for a fine dining establishment yet feedback from their guests is strongly positive in this regard.
A great reputation inside and outside of the organisation
As a family business, Acqua Viva is not tied up to any huge organisations or companies. They maintain their own high quality standards and set out the example for their employees as well. According to Christian, the staff at Acqua Viva are treated like part of the family. On their part, the staff are eager to learn from Christian and his father as their experience provides plenty of learning opportunities across many areas of hospitality, from service to the finest Italian food and more. A testament to this working relationship is the fact that many of the employees have stayed with the Tinellis over the years. In fact, one of them (feel free to insert name and role here) has been working with Christian’s father for 28 years.
Maintaining a great reputation is vital for Acqua Viva as the organisation rarely relies on traditional advertising methods as part of their marketing strategy. Instead, they prefer to market themselves on word of mouth. Clients who choose Acqua Viva as their venue of choice for private and professional events overwhelmingly give positive feedback which in turns feeds new clients back into the business. Of course, in this day and age, social media and the company’s own website are also important. For example, the venue’s Instagram page is constantly updated to ensure that potential guests can be provided with an intimate insight on what’s happening with the venue and how things look from the inside.
Going strong in a competitive industry
The hospitality industry in Perth is, after all, a very competitive market.
“The last couple of years have been tough on hospitality overall. In Perth, there’s been a boom of new ventures and venues opening up. Pop up venues, in particular, have been very popular. But we’ve also seen a lot of them shutting down because it’s a very tough market out there. In the corporate sector, there are fewer people as many of them have been let go. So while we do retain those functions, the amount of staff has decreased so in functions that might have been 150 people, we now have 120 or 100. We still get a number of functions through our door but it’s the number of people who attend them that is much smaller. That’s one of the problems that our industry is facing. We are lucky that we have been around for 12 years and have a lovely clientele that like to give us repeat business”, suggests Christian.
One of the elements which has helped Acqua Viva in this regard is the symbiotic relationship they have developed with their suppliers. By being loyal to their operators and keeping the same suppliers over the years, they have established a strong trust. In addition to that, they have a strong relationship with external services like decorators and DJs. All of them work together to ensure that clients will keep coming back so both sides have a stake in the game.
Over the next few years, Christian hopes to make a bigger push in the corporate sector, not necessarily on big events but more so on smaller ones like one-day conferences and professional breakfasts. Furthermore, Acqua Viva will be launching an external catering service for a variety of events. As Christian explains it, many clients wish to have an event on the foreshore so Acqua Viva will be able to provide them with their own excellent food service. The family’s experience in the hospitality industry will certainly be a strong aspect for years to come.
AT A GLANCE
WHO: Acqua Viva on the Swan
WHAT: One of Perth’s finest establishments for a variety of functions and events
WHERE: Nedlands, Broadway, Perth WA 6009, Australia