After a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, event creators worldwide are continuing to navigate the huge impact it has had on the live events industry. In some cases, this has meant having to push back the date of events. And although the UK now has lockdown-free dates to work towards and plenty of ways to pivot to virtual events, postponement may still be the best option for some. After all, it’s not just COVID-19 that can present an issue. You may experience licensing problems with a venue or featured guests cancelling due to illness.
Postponing your event will not only help you stay on course, but will also ensure that you have time to evaluate and, ultimately, plan an even better experience. Here are a few simple pointers for how to reschedule an event while managing expectations and keeping guests engaged.
1. Inform your service providers of your plan to postpone
Your attendees won’t be the only community to be impacted – it’s likely that your contracts and relationships with your vendors will be immediately affected by the postponement. At this point, most vendors will be better prepared to deal with a change of plans, but you’ll need to communicate quickly so that you can discuss alternatives that are fair to everyone.
- Look for any eligible rights to reschedule or cancel services: Check your contract to determine which scenarios are covered, and your vendors’ policies around postponement. This is particularly important if your event involves food and drink storage.
- Give notice as soon as possible: This might mean as soon as government guidelines are announced – 24 hours is generally considered the minimum amount of notice, but more advance notice is expected if you know sooner.
- Check what your insurance covers: If you have event insurance, you may be able to recover some of the additional costs incurred as a result of rescheduling. But be aware that some insurance providers will not cover known risks like COVID-19.
2. Inform your partners and speakers
The team you’ve organised to speak, perform, or roll out sponsor brand activations at your event will need to make adjustments to their timetables, so the faster you can let them know what’s going on, the better. Add these things to your to-do list:
- Give immediate personal notice to the sponsors, partners, and speakers travelling to your event
- Discuss preferred alternative dates to determine the best time to reschedule
- If they can’t attend the newly scheduled event, ask for their help to find a replacement
3. Make the rescheduling announcement publicly and privately
Now that you’ve stopped the sale of new tickets, you can tackle updating ticket-holders by writing an effective event rescheduled announcement. Communicating changes swiftly and clearly will help to relay your commitment to attendees and instil trust in your event brand.
If you’re struggling, here are some key points on how to write an email to postpone an event. You should include:
- The reason for the postponement
- The new event date, if you have one
- A link to your refund policy
- How to get customer support – you could give a phone number and email address for specific inquiries, as well as add a link to event cancellation FAQs
Once you’ve crafted a solid message, announce the postponement across all possible promotional channels:
- Email: Reach out to everyone who has purchased tickets to update them on your event postponement.
- Ticketing platforms: If your ticketing platform includes guest messaging, use it as an efficient outreach tool. Eventbrite offers in-platform messaging that allows you to update guests and schedule email communications.
- Social media posts: Listen and respond on social media by paying extra-close attention to your event hashtag. Look out for references to the event so that you can reply to mentions, and consider contacting users privately to take care of any public complaints.
- Media partners: Just as your media partners help to share your event with new audiences, they can also serve as convenient outlets to communicate changes and updates.
- Text: This can be the best option for urgent situations since it is the most direct. If you are working within three days or less, consider a mass text in addition to social and email.
4. Update your event listing
Now that you’ve taken care of your guests and set expectations, update your listing with the changes. Postponing may have cost you a few guests, but now you have time to sell more tickets for the new date. Make sure to keep track of the refunded and newly joined attendees so that you can update your logistics plan with an accurate number of expected attendees.
If you’re on Eventbrite Music, you can immediately change your event status and let potential attendees know that your event is postponed. It’s worth keeping your event listing live after postponing to ensure attendees can stay up to date with changes.
5. Outline and post frequently asked questions
The easiest way to soften the backlash from upset guests is to clear any confusion and show them that you’re on top of it by answering their questions, such as:
- Why is the event being postponed?
- Where can I find information about the rescheduled event, including things like changes to location, speaker line-up, and the number of tickets available?
- How are you working with participating vendors and exhibitors to help them?
- What is your refund policy?
- Who should I contact for more information?
Make sure to post your FAQs directly to your Eventbrite event listing.
6. Engage your attendees online
To maximise the turnout of your rescheduled event, keep in touch with your audiences online. You’ll want to keep communication consistent so that they don’t forget about the new dates and remain interested despite the delay. Strategies include:
- Posting social content relevant to the event theme. For example, videos of chefs cooking what they hope to serve if it’s a food and drink event, or getting performers to put together a quick sketch if it’s a comedy event.
- Inviting attendees to a chat group and starting online discussions, especially if your event is based around sharing ideas and information.
- Offering webinars or online events on similar topics. For example, a crash course on marketing if it’s a business event.
- Continuing event promotion with the new event dates.
7. Bounce back after postponing
Your postponement offers an opportunity to come back stronger and more powerful when you do go live. Get creative in thinking of ways you can thank your guests for their patience. Consider:
- Giving discounts to the next event for those who signed up before it was postponed
- Offering a complimentary drink to people who signed up despite the change in plans
- Thanking loyal guests at your next event with reserved seating
- Teaming up with your sponsor to provide VIP gift bags (including branded face coverings if necessary) to the people impacted by the change
Remember the end goal
Gathering is an essential part of being human. Whether it’s for a live performance of our favourite band or networking with other professionals in our industry, events play a crucial role in our sense of belonging.
When circumstances outside your control force you to postpone your event, remember that you were the reason people wanted to get together, and how the passion, dedication, and skills that make you an event creator will serve to enhance your community.
Learn more about effectively communicating with attendees with our year-long communication plan.