The Right Way to Cancel Events: Leverage Proactive Leadership and Events Expertise

If your company is deep into development of a company-wide strategy to manage through the Coronavirus (COVID-19), no doubt you are considering cancelling or rescheduling upcoming “crowd-intensive” events. Whether you have an upcoming conference, internal meetings or user gathering, it is important to consider multiple objectives when revising your meeting schedule, from attendee safety to business interruption to cost.

As corporate event planning professionals skilled in contingency planning for large-scale events, here are our top four recommendations for how to develop a solid game plan in this situation.

Don’t Wait: Be Decisive, Act Swiftly

Appoint an emergency task force comprised of all key stakeholders to ensure that your company develops an effective event contingency plan that addresses all of the implications of cancelling or postponing your company event.

Ask each department’s representative to review the implications of not hosting the event and/or postponing the timing of the event and identify key issues. Ask for each department’s recommendation about whether to cancel or continue/change your planned event.

Once consensus is reached, move forward swiftly to communicate with all internal and external constituencies.

The faster your company moves to make a decision, even in the face of uncertainty, the better.  Clarity from the executive team will instill confidence and reduce anxiety and ambiguity and will reinforce your company’s position that employee and attendee safety is your number one priority.

Create Multiple Scenarios for Rescheduling Events

Develop multiple scenarios regarding the projected length of the epidemic. Due to the current lack of universal, clear data about the Coronavirus, including the expected timing of a vaccine, each company should have tiered plans.

Run the budgets for the scenarios: cancel, reschedule, change the event and host as planned, continue to host as is.   Rescheduling your event versus cancelling it may allow you to negotiate more favorable contract terms with both venues and vendors if you move fast to capture these savings.

Pick a new date. We are currently recommending that our clients reschedule any spring 2020 events to the late summer or fall season, subject to updates about this evolving situation from government agencies.

Restructure your contract to allow for flexibility as this situation unfolds. Make sure your cancellation clauses, refund policies, venue and vendor fees are all carefully evaluated before you finalize any contracts. Make sure you leverage our expertise in this area!

Temporarily Shift Live Events to Engaging Virtual Events

You still need to proceed with business as usual, and you likely have important product announcements for your clients, updates for your investors or partners, and information to convey to your team. While virtual events are never the same nor a perfect replacement for a live event, they can help ensure some level of business continuity under these unusual circumstances. Anna Marie Events is your partner to help you manage through this transition.

  1. Leverage your year-to-date investment in event marketing by moving your attendees into a virtual event.
  2. Vet and contract with a production team (like Anna Marie Events) that is capable of delivering the features and functionality you need to broadcast your program and engage your audiences.
  3. Rework the show flow to include either the full program or a reduced, more focused, key-messages-only program. Infuse branding and graphic design, video and multiple levels and types of interaction to keep your virtual audience segments and all attendees engaged.

To address the loss of networking opportunities and face-to-face, one-on-one relationship building associated with live events, add virtual networking, live-chats and polling to your virtual event.

Create a Health and Safety Plan for All Live Events Moving Forward

Most events prior to the Coronavirus have not had specific plans to control person-to-person contact in a meeting or conference situation for health and safety purposes. All events moving forward (even small gatherings) should have a specific virus mitigation plan approved by management and re-evaluated as we learn more about the virus. Communicate this plan to all stakeholders, including your business partners and vendors so that they fully understand the expectations required for any events for which you will partner moving forward.

Anna Marie Events to the rescue!

If you are concerned about how to revise your company conference or meeting plan in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact us at Anna Marie Events. Leverage our highly experienced team to help you negotiate with third parties, restructure contracts and develop new corporate event strategies for 2020 and beyond.

Examples of how we can assist clients right now include:

  • Assisting with financial analyses evaluating rescheduling vs cancelling vs changing vs continuing 2020 events.
  • Rescheduling contracted events, contract renegotiation and restructuring with venues and vendors.
  • Developing communication strategies for existing attendees and refund policies.
  • Virtual meeting production – AV, run of show, branding and design of the virtual experience, registration, set up, engagement tactics for attendees.
  • Site searches (rescheduled events and for future events).

Our team at Anna Marie Events has extensive experience and success with budget and vendor management and deep and broad industry relationships and networks. We can assist you develop, negotiate and implement a cancellation or rescheduling plan that preserves your relationships with key venue and vendor partners, while at the same time builds in flexibility and reduces your losses and future costs. Let us help.