Cancelled events? Seven ways to help mitigate the negatives and face ‘the new normal’
If you are in the events business, you’ve no doubt experienced massive implications with cancellations or postponements. Yet there’s still a need to remain connected and top of mind in the market. Here’s how.
To say the events industry is facing a fundamental change is underplaying it. The impact of the coronavirus outbreak has had travel, event, and content agencies like us looking to what the future holds.
Cancellations and deferments for events have been the order of business over the last few weeks but how can event organisers ensure readiness for the eventual upturn?
- Managing cancellations
Work with clients , contractors, suppliers and attendees to manage the orderly wind-down of the cancelled project. They want to know what measures you are taking to minimise the impact on them. A coherent digital communication strategy needs to be in place to keep that hard-won brand loyalty in front of eyes for all the right reasons, and to ensure people are not left wanting answers.
- Put out positive messages
These proactive messages need to open the lines of communication across multiple channels as you emphasise that the situation will get better – but right now, we’re in this together.
- Finesse your re-scheduling plan
All stakeholders – from attendees, employees, suppliers and partners – need to be contacted and told about what’s happening next. That means reaching out to everyone to let them know if you plan to reschedule your event and that you will be connecting with them in the lead up to when the rescheduled event happens. The loss of income is going to be stressful to everyone and your communications about re-engagement will – with obvious caveats of the unknown – be reassuring.
- Look after your staff!
Above all, look after and reassure your staff! They are the ones you need to look after more than anyone else, because they are the ones you will rely on most to help you get things back up and running after the restrictions.
Layoffs are never easy and particularly so in these unprecedented circumstances. Offer reduced salaries, unpaid leave or apply for help offered by the Government for furloughed workers or their grant/loan schemes. Mitigating layoffs can make a huge long term difference to everyone’s mindset and you’ll be surprised the compromises people will make short term to hang onto their job – just don’t take advantage of that.
- Managing the financial impact
It is obvious that you will be very worried about the financial side of your cancelled or postponed event. It is also true to say that managing this will likely be the one thing consuming your mind over everything else.
Whilst trying to shore up your own financial position and that of your business for the next three months, make sure you also manage your suppliers, contractors and ticket holders in this regard too. They will be just as worried as you are and facing the same stark realities.
Talk to contractors and suppliers about moving the event and mitigating costs now, which can be deferred to when the postponed event takes place. Similarly ticket holders need to be offered the immediate choice of their ticket being valid for the new date or a refund and pay it promptly – it’s black and white when it comes to this – if you want to protect your brand.
Consider your insurance options for a cancelled event in particular. Most event cancelation policies taken out before COVID-19 cover communicable disease cover in their Force Majeure clause and this may provide you with some cover in the event stakeholders are insisting on recovering loses.
- Go digital
There may be genuine opportunities for companies to take their physical events online during these extraordinary times via Facebook Live, IGTV and other online streaming services, a number of companies are doing this with considerable success. An example was the cancelled Geneva Motor Show where manufacturers launched their cars online to a massively expanded audience…
Admittedly, this will never replace in-person events, but switching to a live streamed or virtual event can still be very effective. Going digital requires an entirely different set of skills and a new approach to the content to ensure that it still resonates and is interactive.
- Protect your brand and monetise cancelled events
This is a time to thank fans and audiences, express real emotion and assure them of your continued commitment. It is also a time to consider other ways keep your valuable event brand relevant.
One way to achieve this is by creating a book to keep the spirit of your event alive. It can effectively represent your presence in-lieu of the physical event by going ‘between the covers’ in a world-class coffee-table book. Expertly executed, it can create a sense of participation and – at the very least – present a stop-gap for keeping your event top of mind. What’s more, it can often generate some useful revenue too.
Although you will be trying to save money, try not to stop communicating completely – the harm this will cause is worse than trying to save money. Just spend every penny wisely and above all, maintain your online presence with entertaining, positive messages – people have got a lot of time on their hands to be online and to read books!
The new normal
Finally, we are all hoping that the effects of COVID-19 are short-lived, but this is going to have huge repercussions in every industry and may even lead to some fundamental changes and further consolidations in various event related agencies. We believe that any ‘new normal’ will have quality content as the key, consistent thread.
Narrative Books are the best-selling publishers of branded books – uniquely placed to help keep cancelled events top of mind for when the current situation ‘normalises’. They may also be able to generate sustainable income streams by monetising event content through world-class books. Visit https://narrativebooks.net/ and or hit the WhatsApp button or contact the author firstname.lastname@example.org or find us on social