How to Cancel an Event and Still Keep Attendees Happy

It’s always unfortunate when an event has to be canceled, but sometimes it’s for the better. With COVID running rampant and with no estimate on when it will get better, many event managers either need to limit the number of people at the venue or cancel their event altogether. Of course, canceling an event is a hard choice and needs to be done in a specific manner.

So, how do you gracefully cancel an event? Is there a particular method one can use to cancel a scheduled event without creating an uproar from attendees? Luckily, a few methods generally work to minimize the damage from a canceled event.

We will discuss the multiple strategies that you can use for event cancellation. Additionally, we’ll provide a breakdown on how to cancel an event and share the best steps to cancel an event. So, if you’re interested in knowing more, keep reading!

Examples of Event Cancellation From Leading Brands

Major events have been canceled in the past few years, which means that a company shouldn’t worry too much about canceling an event. Leading companies have seen conventions, meetings, and entertainment meetups canceled last minute for various reasons. Here are just a few leading brands that canceled major events:

  • Mobile World Congress
  • SXSW
  • Women in Cybersecurity
  • IMEX Frankfurt
  • Facebook F8
  • Google I/O 2020
  • E3 2020
  • Amazon Re:MARS

How To Cancel Your Event Because of COVID-19: Pro Tips

As an event organizer, it’s essential to communicate effectively with attendees why the event is canceled. Stating clear information will help attendees understand why the event needed to be canceled and demonstrate that the company is sympathetic towards the situation. An event that is canceled without information will likely leave a bad impression on attendees, and they may be less likely to attend a future event.

Here is a list of best practices when canceling an event:

  • Contact attendees, sponsors, and stakeholders to the event. Make sure that you are being proactive and communicate with them upfront. Give them ample notice even before an official decision about the event.
  • When canceling, be sure to demonstrate that the final decision has been thought through. Make sure the final decision reflects that it’s in the best interest of the attendees, sponsors, and partners and not just the company.
  • Once canceled, make sure a refund policy for attendees and stakeholders is in place. Ensure that the payment policy is generous and possibly includes other benefits, coupons, or discounts to make up for the cancelation.
  • When sending out the cancellation notice, contain links to read more on why the event is canceled. Consider sending out an email that links to the event’s webpage, which has an FAQ section.
  • Make sure that you have a legal team ready to go even before the event is officially canceled.
  • Cancel at least 30 days in advance to give time for vendors, speakers, etc., to have prompt notice. They may need extra time to cancel contracts, travel plans, hotels, etc.
  • Check the venue and vendors to see if there are any contractual liabilities. With COVID, most vendors are willing to work past any issues.
  • At a minimum, reach out at least a week before the event to help give attendees time to cancel hotels, flights, etc.

Event Cancellation by Email

An excellent way to notify attendees is via email when an event needs to be canceled. Creating a good cancellation email can help strengthen the bond with attendees and lessen the damage of a canceled event. 

So what would a good cancellation email look like?

Well, your cancellation email should be short, straight to the point, and answer basic questions that attendees may have about the cancellation. It would help if you also linked to an FAQ section on the event website to help answer any commonly asked or anticipated questions. Also, be sure to set up support and have them answer any other issues related to the event.

Event Cancellation Announcement Template

Here, we’ll provide a template for an event cancellation announcement:

“We are contacting you today to inform you that this year’s (event name) has been canceled due to (insert reason). 

We value the safety of our attendees and staff, and sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused.

Due to the cancellation, we will be issuing full refunds within (list a date). The refund will be processed by (insert number of days or weeks). Only (insert ticket type) will get a refund. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at (insert contact info).

Best Wishes,

(Name of Event Director)

(Name of Company)”

Top Reasons Your Event Could Be Canceled

An event that’s canceled due to poor reasons is likely to lose the trust of its community and stakeholders. If a company has to cancel an event, it needs a valid reason as to why it’s being canceled. So, it’s crucial to provide the reason for the cancellation. Here, we’ll provide a list of valid reasons to cancel an event.

With COVID-19 persisting, several complications can prevent an event from being held. Some of the reasons for an event cancellation due to COVID includes:

  • Change in capacity due to COVID laws
  • COVID outbreak for attendees, speakers, event staff, etc.
  • Travel restrictions, mandatory quarantine, etc.
  • Mask mandate requires to keep masks on at all times (prevents eating, drinking, or other activities that involve masks being off)
  • Not enough space to safely social distance all attendees and staff

Weather Complications

For outdoor events, it’s common for the weather to be unpredictable and stop an event from happening. If conditions are too worrisome, then an event can be canceled to help prevent attendees from being affected. Bad weather conditions include ice, rain, thunderstorms, tornados, high winds, etc.

Low Attendance

Low attendance is also a common cause for an event to be canceled during COVID. However, a company should carefully consider canceling an event due to low attendance. It can damage your attendees’ trust and make it harder to attract more people for future events.

Other Problems

There can be issues with electricity, wifi, plumbing, etc., that can influence the success of an event. If the issue can’t be fixed when attendees show up, then a cancellation might be the best move. However, this should also be a last resort.

Event Cancellation FAQ

What does it mean when something is cancelled?

A cancellation means that the event is no longer going to happen. It’s different from a rescheduled event, as a reschedule means that the event will still happen, but at a later disclosed date. 

How do you announce a meeting cancellation?

The best method to announce a meeting cancellation is via email. The email should include a clear subject line, use professional language, and have a clear opening statement. List a brief explanation of the situation, propose a reschedule, and express your gratitude.

What is a cancellation policy?

A cancellation policy helps guests determine if they get a refund if the event gets canceled. The policy describes the unique conditions under which a guest is subjected to a refund and for how much. Some policies also state no-refunds and outline the requirements in which no refund can be issued.

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