Best practices to postpone events with the LEAST drama (message template included)

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Affected by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, a lot of community builders have decided to postpone upcoming events. While it’s a righteous action to take given the circumstances, rescheduling an event can be frustrating.

Here is the guideline to gracefully handle the postponement without upsetting anyone.

1. Check the reschedule/cancellation policy of service providers 

Your contracts with the service providers (venue, catering, performance, etc.) are immediately affected by the postponement.

Go through the contracts to look for any eligible rights to reschedule or cancel services. Keep in mind some service providers only allow rescheduling/cancellation if you give notice a certain amount of time before the event date. 24 hours is considered the minimum amount of time to reschedule/cancel a service. 

2. Inform your partners and speakers

Give immediate and personal notice to the partners and speakers who will be travelling to join your events. After explaining the necessity to postpone the event, discuss with them their preferred alternative dates. In the case where they can no longer attend the event, ask for their help to find another partner/speakers. 

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3. Make the rescheduling announcement both publicly and privately

In the announcement, include the following elements: the reason for postponement, new event date, refund policy, and how to get support. 

Announce postponement in all promotional channels possible, including emails, ticketing platforms, social media posts, media partners and even your personal social media account. 

Private messages to each attendee need to be sent in a way that is appropriate to the urgency of the situation. See a message template at the end of the article.

  • Less than 3 days: text or call
  • More than 3 days: emails

4. Offer refund options and customer supports

The new event date or location may not work for everyone. Thus, be prepared to take requests for a refund.

Some alternatives to providing a full refund include:

  • Donate the money to charity under the attendees’ name
  • Transfer the purchased tickets to credits to be used for future events

If you have decided to refund tickets, finalize a refund process. Set up protocols to direct any refund request to appropriate links or team members. Assign team members to handle any questions in the refund process.

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5. Engage your attendees online

To maximize the turnout of the rescheduled event, continue engaging your audiences online to retain the momentum of your previous promotion. Some strategies include:

  1. Invite all attendees to a chat group and engage online discussions
  2. Offer webinars on similar topics
  3. Continue event promotion with the new event dates
  4. Post contents that are relevant to the event theme

6. Monitor the number of refunded and newly joined attendees

Keep track of the number of expected attendees. Some people may ask for a refund while others may decide to attend the new events. Communicate any dramatic change in the number of expected attendees with team members to update event logistics accordingly.

Postponing an event today is to plan for better events tomorrow

A temporary goodbye to your community could be frustrating.

Why not utilize the downtime to explore how to bring engaging events to your audiences in the future. Schedule a call with our interaction expert, Vanessa Mok, to learn how to gamify your next event to forge meaningful connections among your attendees. 

Dear __ATTENDEE’S NAME__,

Due to the recent coronavirus outbreak, we regret to inform you that the __EVENT NAME__ will be postponed to __NEW EVENT DATE___ at __NEW LOCATION.

Please __ACTION____ to request for a refund and we will issue the refund within __NUMBER__ Days.

While it is a pity to reschedule the event, we encourage everyone to follow advice from the World Health Organization and look forward to see you at upcoming events.

Best regards,

__SIGNATURE__

__CONTACT INFO__