Cancelling an event without damaging your reputation

Whether it’s due to a natural disaster, delayed travel, venue cancellation or your entertainment pulling out at the last minute, you’ll likely face backlash if your event cannot go ahead.

Aside from ticket refunds, paying staff and potentially venue costs, along with everything you’ve invested into marketing and promotion, you may also find that your reputation will face a knock if you don’t take steps to limit this. If you’ve done everything you possibly can to enable your event to go ahead but it simply cannot happen, make sure you’ve covered all of the avenues below.

Communicate quickly
The moment you know you have to cancel your event, the first thing you should do is to communicate this with either the venue/event hosts, any sponsors, performers, suppliers and of course the registered attendees.  Whilst you can’t account for the notice you give them, ensure they know immediately after you do and take steps to ensure you don’t accept any more ticket sales or registrations for the event.

Ideally, you will need to give your attendees 24 hours’ notice so that they can cancel their own travel plans. Otherwise, you may be obliged to compensate for the cost of these as well.

Dependent on the size of your event, sending an email may suffice but calling people directly where possible may serve to put you in better standing.

Be honest about your reason
Whilst it may be tempting to preface your communication with ‘Due to unforeseen circumstances outside of our control’, this vague approach may serve to confuse and anger people. Try to be as honest as you can. However, be mindful of oversharing; don’t share embarrassing/private details or anything that could put you in the midst of a legal battle.

Offer a refund
If your attendees have paid for a ticket in advance to your event and you are unable to reschedule the event, make sure to inform them in your initial contact that they will be fully refunded for their ticket. This direct approach should appease the majority of your customers. Make sure that you deliver their refund as quickly as possible and don’t simply disappear off the radar. If you fail to refund them or there’s a long delay in the refund, this will have a major bearing on your reputation and any of your future events.

Make sure that even if you are able to reschedule, you still give your initial buyers the choice to get a refund as they paid for the ticket for the date advertised, not the rescheduled date.

Treat your suppliers with respect
Make sure to keep an open channel of communication with your suppliers following the cancellation of your event and don’t cut all ties without paying them anything. It’s likely that they would have needed to buy in extra supplies for the event or hire in additional staff, so you may need to negotiate a final payout to ensure their extra expenditure is accounted for.

Be prepared in advance
Creating and marketing an event can be costly but cancelling one can be financially devastating. However, with Event Cancellation Insurance in place, you are protected from irrecoverable costs and incurred expenses. To find out more about how this policy could help you, call one of our team on 0141 221 9344.