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The Covid-19 Pandemic and Cancelling an Event.

Andy Robertson

The impact of the current pandemic has had a dramatic effect on global business and economies but particularly badly hit is the events industry. Not only are there strict government guidelines to follow for events involving the gathering of people, but as an event organiser you have a social responsibility to your customers to consider too. 

One of the key factors in making a decision to cancel or not will depend on the timing and country or jurisdiction your event will take place. It is unlikely that anything will be allowed to run much before September 2020 so anything before then will certainly need to be cancelled. The next key consideration is to either postpone to Q4 2020 or cancel any idea of running in 2020 and opt for a date in 2021. 

Timing is everything, your ticket paying customers, artists, vendors, sponsors and the venue want to know as soon as possible the status of your event. Procrastinating about the cancellation issue means people can’t plan and the last thing you should do is cancel with just few weeks to go. Consult with all your event suppliers and partners on a daily basis and make a quick decision, uncertainty does not build relationships far from it. 

There are huge financial implications in cancelling an event. Firstly, check your insurance and see what is covered and what is not. Make an assessment on sunk costs and what can be recovered or moved to another date. Negotiate with suppliers and partners, every business is hurting and it's time for the business community and events industry to come together with some kind of compromise in sharing the burden of cancelled events. It may be feasible to roll over ticket sales revenue to the new event date and certainly it would help cash flow, rather than having to make refunds. Some event organisers have also been trying the crowdfunding route to survive, if the fan base is big enough this may be an attractive option although it does expose you to being seen as an event organiser sailing close to the wind financially and therefore not stable? 

At all times communicate to your ticket paying customers via email and your social media channels to keep them informed and up to date. Once the decision is made to cancel ensure that there is a process in place for allowing ticket refunds and communicate what this process is to ticket holders. Make sure that you have a clear set of FAQ’s and access to customer service people for direct questions. Assuming you have your processes in place you should then be in a position to make a formal announcement via the press and your usual online channels.             

If you are using an event management software solution like FestivalPro you get great functionality built in for managing event cancellations. A robust ticket refund and tracking feature means you have real time access to refund requests and can track customer's queries. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience. The easy to use FestivalPro platform will guide you through every aspect that you are likely to encounter in managing the cancellation of your event in these unprecedented times. 

Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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