Dealing With Last Minute Rescheduling Of Event
Dealing with last minute rescheduling of events has always been a challenge for nonprofits and cultural institutions. Nothing feels worse than having to cancel an event and let your guests down after putting in so much time, energy, and resources.
In a post-pandemic era, cancellations are even more common, including the frustrations that come with them. So what can you do about them? How can organizations mitigate future corporate event cancellation?
Reasons for canceling a event
Before getting into mitigation strategies, let’s look at some of the top reasons why events are being canceled today. Knowing the most common reasons for event cancellation can help you prepare for when the unexpected happens.
- COVID-19 related complications causing event cancellation
- COVID-19 has, to say the least, presented challenges to several avenues of modern life – work-related challenges, personal challenges, social challenges, and, yes, philanthropic and cultural challenges. Museums and zoos have had to close down to keep their guests and animals safe, and nonprofits have had to rethink their fundraising strategies to meet donors virtually. Local laws prohibiting in-person events, a general sense of caution from the public, and travel restrictions are some of the top reasons why you may have had to cancel an event because of COVID-19.
- Bad weather cancellations
- Bad weather has been a source of event cancellations for as long as people have been coming together in social settings. Rainstorms, snow, thunderstorms, high winds, tornadoes, and even bad air pollution can lead to events being canceled, especially outdoor events.
- Venue issues and unforeseen problems
- Because of how unpredictable weather patterns can be, It’s more common to see issues with outdoor venues than indoor venues. Still, even indoor venues might have issues. AC issues, problems with food catering services, event speakers who cancel at the last minute, and plumbing/electric issues are all things that can come between you and a successful event.
- Low attendance/poor ticket sales
- It’s hard to justify a costly event if you know you have sub-par attendance and poor ticket sales prior to the event. This, unlike the three previous issues, is a concern that you will typically have a lot of control of, which makes it one of the most important things to take the initiative on. Poor ticketing technology, marketing efforts, and guest-engagement practices can all be big contributors to a lack-luster crowd.
Steps to mitigate backlash of canceling a major event
So how can you mitigate or prevent these issues from happening? Below we’ll get into some strategies you can start implementing today in order to ensure you have a successful and seamless event.
- Start early
- This is a simple but effective strategy. The sooner you start, the better you will set yourself up for success in the event that something goes wrong. A lot of challenges will happen in last-minute scenarios, and getting ahead early will place less pressure on you when things do go wrong. If you’re scrambling to organize your event and something unexpected happens, a minor challenge can turn into a planning nightmare.
- Virtually notify your attendees with all necessary information on all necessary channels
- Keep your guests up to date across all your channels. This includes your internal team, guests and visitors, members, key donors, volunteers, sponsors, board members, local partnerships, catering businesses, and whoever else may be involved. If you give those involved in the event a proper notice, they’ll be grateful to at least be able to cancel their travel plans and accommodations without a penalty.
- Have a unified message for disappointed event attendees
- Expect attendees to be disappointed, and be sure to have a unified message directed to those individuals. Provide a sincere apology, let them know of their refund (if a refund is on the table), remind them of the wonderful things you have coming up later in the year, and incentivize future attendance with a discount on a future event or something similar to that.
- Have a virtual back-up option
- One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is flexibility. With almost every facet of life going virtual, especially early on in the pandemic, it shouldn’t be too difficult to implement a virtual back-up plan, like hosting your guest talks and panels through video, in case something does go awry.
- Communication via bulk messaging methods and social media
- Use social media to spread the word that your event will be rescheduled. This will depend on the main channels of communication you maintain with your guests, donors, and partnerships, but social media is an effective way to get the word out and keep people informed.
While every organization is different and will have different communication channels, it’s important to create a plan and know exactly what steps you will take if you have to cancel an event last minute.
What to include in your briefing for attendees of your canceled event
When you send out your email or message to attendees, you obviously want to provide a sincere apology and acknowledge the mutual disappointment of the cancellation. You also want to include other key information that will help limit frustration and answer questions.
Here’s what you should include in your briefing for attendees of your canceled event:
- Reason for cancellation
- An offer to refund/transfer tickets (in case of postponement)
- Convert tickets to donations (and provide necessary forms)
- Discount code for future events
- FAQs section including how refunds will be distributed, why the event was canceled, and other relevant information
- Info on rescheduled event
- Who to contact
What backlash is to be expected by canceling events
Also expect some level of backlash. There’s no way around hearing from upset ticket holders and attendees, so you should prepare a team of service reps or organizational team members to deal with the backlash.
People will likely:
- Write negative comments on social media
- Demand refunds
- Express their challenges with flight and hotel cancellations
- Express general disappointment/frustration
- Ask why your organization didn’t notify them sooner
The best thing you can do in this situation is expect the worst and be prepared with thoughtful and considerate responses. Implement training for your marketing/customer service teams to help be better equipped to handle attendee backlash.
Schedule events smarter with ACME
ACME ticketing will enable you to maximize ticket sales, market effectively, and manage attendee information for membership growth. In the event that you have to cancel an event last-minute, ACME can also help you with your outreach efforts.
ACME’s advanced CRM will allow you to reach out to attendees quickly and efficiently, so they can make the appropriate preparations as soon as possible.
Try the demo today to see how ACME can help you maximize ticket sales, grow members, and host successful events.