5 Communication Tips for Handling Postponed or Cancelled Events
(By David Kennedy | Wednesday, March 25th, 2020)
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, live events in every corner of the globe have been affected by social gathering restrictions, transmission concerns, and a sense of general uncertainty. When you’re faced with the need to make the tough call to postpone, change, or cancel your event, you’ll want to make sure your customers understand the situation as thoroughly as possible.
In such challenging times, it’s important to keep your ticket buyers in the loop as much as possible in order to maintain a sense of trust and confidence in your event. Our event experts are here to help, with five key tips for effective communication in the event of a postponement or cancellation.
Communicate at Every Stage
It’s important to keep attendees informed regularly via your website and social media, even if no decisions have been made yet. Be as honest and open as possible, letting them know you’re aware of potential concerns and are examining every avenue for resolution. Your audience will appreciate the honesty and be less apprehensive about the status of their ticket purchase as things progress.
Develop an Official Plan
When it becomes clear a postponement or cancellation is necessary, ensure your team has all the proper information they need to communicate to your customers, talent, vendors, and the media. If your social media, customer support, or other staffers are not communicating consistent messaging across the board, confusion and added challenges may follow. Brief your entire event staff on the necessary details and lay out scripts to communicate the situation. Have an escalation plan in place for whatever situation may arise following your announcement and set up a dedicated internal communication channel for the situation (i.e. online channel such as Skype or Yammer or other instant messaging service, or a group text.)
Make Your Announcement Heard
When your postponement or cancellation decision is ready to go public, utilise every tool at your disposal to make sure your attendees (as well as sponsors, artists, and special guests) are informed of your event’s new status in a timely manner. Direct emails, social media posts, website updates, and mobile app push notifications should all be used to alert ticket buyers and other stakeholders to the changing situation. In such communications, be sure to clearly lay out your pre-arranged policies and procedures regarding the exchange, transfer, or refunding of tickets.
If you’ve been open, honest, and empathetic with your customers from the onset, an unfortunate situation like this will be much easier to navigate for all involved. Thank your customers for their understanding, express the notion that you’re all in this together, and try to maintain a balance of optimism and realism in your messaging that communicates your sincere efforts to do what’s best for everyone. If you’re planning on rescheduling, use this opportunity to announce your new dates, and offer your existing ticket holders perks like a VIP upgrade or exclusive event content to encourage them to hang on to their tickets.
Whatever your plans hold for your event, be it a cancellation, postponement, or rescheduling options that require a response on the ticket buyer’s part, you can utilise the automated communication tools you likely already have at your disposal to stay connected to your customers. An automated email drip campaign or periodic push notifications to your event’s mobile app can be a huge asset in providing regular updates, getting the responses you need, encouraging survey participation, or even offering deals on event merchandise to provide an additional revenue stream. Once you’ve confirmed the details of your next event, use these tools to encourage ticket sales and express continued gratitude for your customers’ support.