During times like these, it's heart-breaking to see how many in-person events have had to be canceled or postponed due to COVID-19. Many of our clients have had to cancel events and conferences that had so much hard work put in behind the scenes.
Cancellations are an event planner's worst nightmare. Cancellations often result in months of lost planning, especially when stay-at-home orders are forcing companies to cancel events left and right. Unfortunately, cancellations are a possibility that event planners have to be prepared for.
Read on to learn all the steps you need to take when your event is canceled.
1. Understand the Reason for Cancelling
There are many things that can result in the cancellation of an event. Such factors include natural disasters (hello, COVID-19!), financial reasons, and even main sponsors pulling out at the last minute. Whatever the case, the first step you should take is assessing the cause. Is it something that can be addressed or resolved with a slight adjustment?
If the situation cannot be rectified, reach out to your clients and sponsors, and issue a sincere apology. Avail communication channels that they can use to reach out to you and make sure you're available to address their concerns. If the event has been canceled because of something that was avoidable, review your internal processes to ensure the same does not happen in future.
2. Stop Ticket Sales
Once a decision has been made to cancel the event, all ticket sales should be stopped. This should be followed up with a message to all the people who have already purchased tickets. Use multiple channels such as emails, social media, and your website to make sure the message gets out as fast as possible. In your communication, include information about refunds and when you'll begin processing them.
3. Sort Out Financial Matters
Regardless of whether the event takes place or not, it is crucial that you get paid for the effort you put in. This is where event contracts are crucial. For every event you are hired to organize, make sure that the contract addresses all the key issues and potential risks, such as cancellation.
One way to do this is to insert a clause indicating that deposits are non-refundable in any eventuality. In addition, you should have percentages for certain milestones. For instance, if the event is canceled three months to the date, you gate 75% of the fees.
However, this all depends on the circumstances. If the cancellation results from your actions or failure in preparation, it may be better to refund your client's money. If the cancellation is out of your hands by lets say, a pandemic, then you may want to consider a partial refund to your clients.
4. Don't Let the Day Go to Waste
If your event is canceled a month or more before the scheduled date, that does not mean the day should go to waste. Rather than focus on the lost opportunity, you should try and find a new one. Go all out and market your availability on that day on all your marketing channels. Offer a generous discount for that day as you still have the non-refundable fee from the canceled event. Or find a way to still host your event online. There are plenty of platform options to host your event virtually, like Zoom, Facebook Live or Instagram live. You will have to do some additional planning but if it's possible to refrain from cancelling, why should you? You just have to get creative with your new plans during these unprecedented times.
Always Have a Contingency Plan
In addition to organization skills, event planning requires one to have the ability to handle pressure as there are many potential challenges that could arise. It is crucial to have foresight and determine what could lead to event cancellation, then put measures in place to prevent it or get creative and find a solution to host your event online.
By addressing such concerns beforehand, all that will be left is marketing your event. Ironmark offers creative, print, and marketing services. Get in touch with us to find out how we can make your event a success.