You’ve spent months curating a program, locking down speakers, securing sponsorship, deciphering AV proposals and then it all comes crashing to a halt. Australia has banned “non-essential” gatherings of more than a 100 people in response to the corona virus pandemic. We haven’t seen this sort of thing in my lifetime and by most reports Australia hasn’t experienced anything of its kind since the end of the First World War. Now the big decision in the event industry:
Do you cancel or postpone your event?
1. Be Informed
Get in touch with your venue, hotels, speakers and suppliers and discuss your options. It’s important to get all the information before you decide. Is your event covered under a cancellation or force majeure clause? Are you eligible to recover deposits paid or will they be rolled forward to a future event? Is there availability at your chosen venue for a future date? It is important to map out what a cancellation and postponement will look like for your event so that you know the risk vs reward.
2. Streamline Processes
Work out a systematic process as to how you would like to handle the postponement or cancellation process for delegates and sponsors. Consider how you and your team will handle questions about registration refunds and come up with a process that is simple and effective.
There isn’t a definitive end date for this just yet so make sure you schedule your revised date far enough into the future that you won’t need to keep changing it. Before landing on a new date for your next conference, you need to consider what events have already been scheduled for 2021 and whether delegates will still be able to attend your event in 12 months’ time.
Everyone is dealing with increased levels of stress right now so the best thing that you can do is keep your delegates and sponsors informed. Still yet to decide to postpone or cancel? No worries let people know when you’ll land on a decision. Don’t know how you’re going to process refunds? Then, let people know you’re working on it. The more you speak to your clients, delegates and sponsors then the more they will understand. No one likes being left in the dark.
5. Stay Positive
We’re all in this together. Reach out to your clients, colleagues and friends for support but remember there is light at the end of the tunnel and events will return!