It’s inevitable. If you’ve been in the industry long enough, you’ve probably had to deal with an event you were forced to cancel. So, whether it’s hurricanes, insane traffic, or an alien invasion – here are 3 crucial steps to take to recover from an event cancellation.
Evaluate the Reason for Cancellation
Once you hear the bad news, it is essential for you to determine why exactly it was canceled. Did a couple break up? Was it postponed due to an illness or tragedy? Did a sponsoring company fall on hard times prior to a corporate event? Or was the cancellation due to your actions throughout the planning process?
If the situation was out of your control, then the best thing you can do is send sincere apologies over to your clients and let them know they can reach out if they need to get in touch with you. If the cancellation falls on you, however, an apology is absolutely necessary and, if possible, look for a way to rectify the situation. Outside of the individual event, consider your processes and client interaction in order to ensure that the problem doesn’t happen again.
Handle the Financials
The matter of finances can be a sensitive situation in the case of a canceled event, so having an iron-clad contract can be all the difference in protecting your business. Your contract should have a clause that ensures your deposit is non-refundable, regardless of what situation arises. In addition, consider designating percentages for certain periods of time – for example, if the event is canceled within three months, you will receive 75% of the fees, whereas you would receive 100% if canceled within 90 days in advance. You did the work, so you deserve to be paid for it.
Of course, there are some exceptions and it’s always best to consider each situation on a case-by-case basis. If an event is canceled because of your wrongdoings, it may be ethical to refund more, if not all, of the client’s money. On the other hand, if you’re aware your client is going through a death or an illness in the family, you may consider ways to help them in their time of need. Your business is certainly important, but so is your humanity. Do what you know to be right – don’t force your clients to pay you if you’ll feel bad about it later.
Rebook the Day, If Possible
In some cases, an event can be canceled with enough time to book another, so it’s time to turn your sights to promoting the newly opened date. Share it to your social media profiles and your website, as well as any industry groups that you are a part of. Consider extending a discount on the day, as you’ve held onto the previous retainer. There’s nothing like a great deal to get someone interested! Be upfront about the limited timeline with any prospects, just so they are aware of the expectations before signing on the dotted line.
If the date isn’t able to be rebooked, don’t linger on it. Devote your extra time to your other projects and events and schedule a special treat for yourself, like a massage or lunch at that new trendy spot down the street. Being emotional over a canceled event doesn’t change the situation, so accept it and continue being a boss!