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Event Cancellation Made Easy: 6 Key Strategies for Smooth Sailing

Event Cancellation Made Easy: 6 Key Strategies for Smooth Sailing


Apr 25, 2024 Praggya Joshi

You've poured your heart and soul into crafting the perfect event plan, securing the ideal venue and catering, and spreading the word far and wide. But then, like a plot twist in a story, an unforeseen circumstance throws a wrench into your plans, leaving event cancellation as the only sensible option. It's a frustrating and disheartening situation, but here's the silver lining: you're not alone. Force majeure can strike anyone, at any time, disrupting even the best-laid plans. 

Instead of dwelling on disappointment or letting frustration take over, it's time to embrace the art of graceful event cancellation.  Whether it's a small gathering or a large-scale conference, here are some invaluable tips for navigating the process of event cancellation with finesse and flair.


Are There Ways to Stop Event Cancellation?
Before we dive into the secrets of gracefully cancelling an event, let's pause for a moment to consider if cancellation is truly your only option. Believe it or not, there are times when you can take proactive steps to prevent event cancellation altogether.  

One of the salient teachings of the pandemic was to be thoroughly prepared for any unforeseen occurrence. Now when it comes to event planning, almost anything can go wrong. It’s why we recommend using technology to reduce your workload and minimize errors. In addition, having a contingency plan is important to reduce the likelihood of event cancellation and managing attendee expectations. Here are some tips for the same. 

  • Sometimes, the venue decides to bail on you, leaving event cancellation as your only option. However, if you're hosting a small event, there's always a way out by scouting for an alternative spot. While shortlisting venues, have the contact details for a few other places apart from the one you have chosen. It will prevent you from cancelling the event altogether.  
  • Equipment failure, power loss, network disruption, and weather conditions are some major reasons that prompt planners to take the unfortunate decision of canceling their events. So, you need to be prepared and have an A/V contingency plan in place. Ensure you have back-up for equipment like laptops, microphones, speakers, cameras, and projectors. For power supply, having generators, batteries, or uninterruptible power supplies (UPS) is recommended, and for network connectivity, keep mobile hotspots, routers, or VPNs ready.  
  • Although rare, speakers cancelling events does happen every now and then because of travel issues, bad weather or family emergencies. For this, you must always have a backup plan in place for your speakers. Look into your event agenda, and previous speakers, and explore the network of savvy professionals who can be part of your event.  
  • In case of a weather change, you may need backup event spaces. If it’s an outdoor event, find a venue big enough so you have extra space. If you have already arranged a backup venue, it should be near to your event's location. Another option is to invest in some heavy tents that can be assembled easily.  


How to Cancel an Event Without Harming Your Reputation
If you cannot do anything apart from cancelling your event, the following steps will help you do the same without upsetting your attendees. 

1. Create a Simple Event Cancellation Announcement Message
Begin by creating a clear message. Draft a sincere apology and state the reason for cancellation. Now remember to focus on the reason more than apologizing so people know that you are canceling because of things beyond your control. After that, explain how and when refunds will be made and whether you will reschedule the event or not. The tone of your message should be as per your target attendees. For example, if your attendees are business associates, keep the tone genuine but professional.


2. Communicate Differently to Different Attendee Groups
Once you've crafted your message, it's time to get the word out to your attendees. With a comprehensive event management platform, you have the power to create different event cancellation templates tailored to your needs and send them to your attendees. These customizable templates give you the flexibility to craft any kind of message or announcement and swiftly share it with your attendees. Besides sending an email, you can publish the announcement on your event website and social media channels as well. 

When it comes to communication, a one-size-fits-all approach just won't cut it. For those special groups of attendees, like VIPs, local dignitaries, and key stakeholders, go the extra mile with personal phone calls. It's all about that personal touch and making sure they feel valued. 

As for the rest of your attendees, crafting a customized event cancellation message is the way to go. To ensure your message reaches far and wide, consider writing a press release. And if your event has been covered by a local newspaper, reach out and ask them to retract the story.


3. Include a Discount Code for Future Events
Offering a discount code isn't just about saving a few bucks for your attendees, it is more about nurturing a strong connection and ensuring their presence in your future events. The mention of a discount code in your cancellation message also shows that you care about attendee satisfaction. Your attendees may also appreciate the efforts you are making to ensure a positive experience, even in the face of a calamity.


4. Share the Message with Uplifting Words and Phrases
Do you remember the time around March 2020? Event cancellations rolled in one after another. One of the best approaches that top companies adopted was to sprinkle uplifting words and phrases in their cancellation messages. Here are some creative ideas to inspire your own message or to include directly. 

  • We are exploring options to reschedule the event because we firmly believe in 'the show must go on' philosophy.  
  • We are working hard to design the BEST events for you. Trust us when we say you won't need to wait for long. 
  • Take our word when we say that this cancellation is a chance for us to bring you an even more amazing experience. 
  • We're grateful for your understanding and support and can't wait to see you at our next event, which will surely be worth the wait! 
  • Don't think of this as a problem. Consider it as a twist in our event story—it's about to unveil an even more stellar sequel! 

 
5. Stop the Ticket Sale Immediately
If your cancellation is full and final, stop the sale of tickets. If you use a ticketing management software, pause the process immediately. Such software also comes with an integrated event app for attendees. They can view the event schedule and find out all information about your event. The notice for cancellation will also appear on the app. 

Here too, you can take some steps to demonstrate your grace in canceling the event. Instead of a blanket cancellation of tickets, give some options to your attendees so they feel inclined to attend your future events. It will help in minimizing event cancellation impact. For instance, give your attendees the freedom to transfer tickets to any future or upcoming events in the months ahead. Another option is to provide the audience with an event credit.


6. Start the Process of Issuing a Refund Quickly
It's showtime for the event refund policy! You need to give back to those who snagged tickets to your show. It's the logical next step in the process. If your event was just a one-day affair, refund the whole amount. But if you're dealing with a multi-day extravaganza and only one day's worth of fun got axed, a partial refund is the way to go. You may also have to shift gears from an in-person to an online event due to weather woes. In that case, partial refunds are still the way to go. 

Here's a quick tip. Don't drag your feet on the refund front. Waiting too long after breaking the cancellation news won't do your brand any favors.


Summing Up
The aforementioned steps will assist you in canceling events with minimal drama. Although it may be disheartening, it's important to acknowledge that life doesn't always follow our plans. In cases where rescheduling isn't feasible, executing a cancellation process with finesse will help preserve your brand's identity and garner sympathy from your attendees. Furthermore, following these steps will help mitigate the risk of negative publicity. Take some time to reflect on the reasons for cancellation (excluding weather and natural disasters) and implement corrective measures for future events. 

Experience Eventcombo's event tech suite and make every event experience unforgettable. https://bit.ly/498PjBV 


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