Contingency or Cancellation: Key Areas To Consider When Faced With Event Disaster

You’ve been working on your event for months, you’ve spent countless hours planning every detail, negotiating with suppliers, training staff and sleepless nights worrying about parking spaces and signage. Everything is ready to go, when suddenly the worst happens: your guest speaker pulls out, the weather turns against you, your key event managers become ill or your suppliers don’t deliver vital equipment. Although you may have produced an extensive contingency plan, knowing when to implement contingency measures and when to cancel the event completely can be an extremely difficult decision. The following are 3 important areas to consider when disaster strikes your event.

Health and Safety
This is obviously the most important area to think about when cancelling an event. Are your attendees, event team and all involved stakeholders safe? Will the venue be unsafe if the rain causes flooding? What will happen if someone is injured but your First Aid Officer isn’t there? Health and safety can be extremely tedious and you may think that you are being overly cautious, but think about the outcomes of continuing an event and think logically about the risk involved. The event may lose money, you may get bombarded with negative feedback or damage the event’s reputation but health and safety must take priority above all other factors.

Attendees Experience
If you implement contingency measures, will your attendees still enjoy the event? If guests have paid to see one particular speaker, will they be satisfied with a replacement? If you’re running an outdoor music festival, attendees may expect rain and cancelling the event due to bad weather would be completely unnecessary. Think about why your guests are attending and what they want out of the experience. Would it be better to cancel the event and refund tickets or continue the event and risk attendees demanding a refund? Consider the impact of the contingency measure on attendee experience and satisfaction rate.

Event Reputation
What will your attendees say about your event if you cancel or don’t cancel the event? Will they demand a refund if the headline act cancels but you continue the concert with a lesser known band? Will they be upset if you cancel the event simply because the wifi at the hotel isn’t working properly? Think about the opinions guests will form about the event based on your decision. How do you want the event to be seen by its attendees? This will depend on your target market and your desired event image. Do you want to be see as a company that only produces first class experiences and will not give anything less? Or a tenacious company that found a way to continue the event even through difficulties? Consider what the media and key influencers will say about your decision and how this will impact the event reputation.

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When it comes to cancelling an event, you can’t please everyone. Some guests may be livid that you cancelled an event because of a little wind, others may applaud you for putting the safety of your guests first. Think about these 3 key areas when creating your contingency plan and think through them again when faced with the decision to cancel an event.


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