How to Handle an Event Cancellation during the COVID-19 Pandemic

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that large events and gatherings of 50 or more people, scheduled within the next eight weeks, be canceled or postponed.  However, there is reasonable concern that timeframe may be extended.  For many companies, this impacts client conferences, employee functions, and trade shows, usually at considerable cost.

Identify your unique situation

5WPR is recommending to any clients with upcoming events, scheduled through Q2, to begin preparing to reschedule and address necessary stakeholders.  From a reputation standpoint, such moves are more widely understood when those impacted have enough time to react.  Even if the final decision isn’t made just yet, walking through the considerations and creating a strong internal and external plan will help mitigate fallout.

Address key stakeholders

·        Assure vendors and exhibitors that contracts will be honored

·        Notify confirmed speakers, analysts and media attendees

·        Explain impact on previously booked travel and accommodations

·        Determine and communicate a refund policy

Detail your continuing communication plan

·        Determine how often you can regularly provide viable updates

·        Commit to an update plan and reassure stakeholders of this commitment

Create a channel for direct communication and communicate it

·        The anatomy of the initial announcement

·        Set up a dedicated email and/or phone number

·        Consider a running list FAQ’s that can be found on your website

Messaging Examples

·        Explain the health and well-being of everyone is paramount to the inconvenience this causes, but also address concerns related to financial fallout as best as possible

·        If a new date isn’t set, be clear about your intentions to continue or not reschedule the event immediately