Most venues and suppliers are willing to be flexible with their terms and conditions when postponing an event, especially during a major crisis like a pandemic. Cancellation fees may also be waived depending on the situation. It is always worth the discussion with your venue or supplier contact.
2. Read your contract
How many times have you signed off terms and conditions without reading them? When it comes to running large conferences and events this is not an area to be skipped! The contract will hold the information relating to cancellations, including liability costs as well as a force majeure clause. This clause is essential to protect your business in situations such as a pandemic. You can often negotiate these terms before signing the contract.
3. Do you need to postpone or cancel
Look at the overall event objectives and see if you can come up with solutions. Are there other ways to proceed. There are many virtual event solutions, fully online or a mix of both, and many technology options to utilise. Consider splitting the event across multiple venues. So long as the event adheres to government guidelines in each venue this option can save on delegate flight and accommodation costs by holding the event in multiple locations at the same time.
4. Communicate and plan
After final decisions about postponement or cancellation of your event, you need to develop an action plan. Include the following:
• Communicate to all stakeholders including delegates, sponsors, exhibitors, venues, entertainment, hotels, photographers plus any person/group involved in your event. You need to determine when to communicate, what to communicate and how to communicate to each group/individual
• Develop a strategy for sponsors and exhibitors to remain, offering an additional 12 months of exposure where events have been postponed
• Arrange for registered delegates to change to new accommodation dates
• Manage speakers, including availability for news dates, confirmations and flight changes
• Develop a new program timeline including abstract submissions either being resubmitted or retaining existing abstracts
• Update website and marketing collateral with new and relevant content
• Develop a new marketing strategy in the lead up to new event dates
5. Budgeting and Forecasting
With any cancellation of an event, there are unavoidable costs. Ensure you understand the extent of these cancellation costs before making a final decision. If you postpone an event, the costs need to be updated for the following year. You need to consider CPI increases to food and beverage, room hire costs, and additional marketing expenses. Get full financial costings for both postponement and cancellation before making a final decision. Consider additional income you may receive by postponing an event. With a little extra planning, a new marketing strategy could attract more delegates and sponsors to increase revenue. Also include any additional government funding you can apply for to assist in marketing promotions.