How to Prevent Event Cancellations [Plus, Free Email Templates]

how to prevent event cancellations

On Sunday, March 15, the CDC advised cancelling events of more than 50 people across America for the next eight weeks. Then, just one day later on Monday, March 16, the White House issued a recommendation to cancel gatherings of more than 10 people across the United States for the next 15 days. Clearly, federal guidance on acceptable event size is growing increasingly more stringent. And more and more cities and states across the country are shutting down with “shelter-in-place” orders, instructing people to stay at home.

In light of these announcements, unfortunately we believe many creatives will likely see an increase in cancellation requests. To help our community combat this, particularly those in the events space, we’ve created this three-step guide on how to prevent event cancellations. 

How to prevent event cancellations:

  1. Reschedule events — Proactively ask clients to postpone or modify events to comply with CDC recommendations.
  2. Communicate quickly and consistently — Stay in close, frequent contact with clients about your plans to ensure they feel taken care of.
  3. Use email templates — Use one of our professionally written templates to communicate with your clients about rescheduling/downsizing, from your first proactive outreach to what to say when sending updated contracts.

Step 1: Encourage clients to #RescheduleDontCancel

Your clients are likely anxious about upcoming events and likely already considering rescheduling or cancelling. To prevent cancellation, we recommend you proactively reach out to your clients and encourage them to reschedule. Encouraging your clients to postpone is huge in helping you to keep retainer fees (you can transfer them as a credit to your client’s account for future use) and not lose the business altogether. 

Need a rescheduling contract? HoneyBook members can learn more about where to find the Rescheduling Amendment in their accounts here. The Legal Paige also has a Contract Addendum/Rescheduling Contract/Cancellation Contract Bundle available for purchase here.

Another option for how to prevent event cancellations is to ask clients to modify their event to be more intimate to meet federal recommendations about event size. We’ve created templates to help you start the conversation in step #3. 

Step 2: Communicate quickly & consistently

With federal recommendations changing so quickly, the already-stressful process of planning an event is made even more difficult for your clients. It throws all their planning for a loop. And calls into question what will happen with all of the money they’ve invested. 

The idea of losing money puts people on edge. So, in addition to encouraging your clients to reschedule (or modify) their events, the next step is to stay in close communication with these clients. It is crucial to respond quickly and consistently with your clients when discussing refunds/cancellation policies. Lean on the relationship you’ve built with them over the past months and try to accommodate them as best you can. 

Our members have told us that proactive communication has helped. Where we’ve heard people run into trouble is when the communication with clients drops off. Clients may start to fear they’re not going to get their money back or have the services provided at a later date, and this is when they may escalate by cancelling altogether or disputing charges with their bank.

To avoid this, you need to respond within an hour (ideally minutes). At the very least, be sure to respond on the same day. But the faster you can get back to your anxious client, the more you can reassure them and reach a solution that’s best for both of you. Emotions are high with clients and if they do not get a quick reply, they will escalate fast. Don’t make them feel ghosted. 

Step 3: Use an Email Template to Encourage Rescheduling or Modifying Events

We’ve created an email template to help you start the conversation around rescheduling and modifying events, as well as a template for what to say when you send a rescheduling amendment.

All you need to do is copy and paste the template into your emails (or create a HoneyBook email template). Just make sure to update any bolded fields and adjust the copy to reflect your business practices and contract clauses. (HoneyBook members can also find these templates in their accounts under Tools > COVID-19 Toolkit.)

Note: Most contracts are now in force majeure land, not cancellation/rescheduling clause land. You must follow what your contract’s force majeure clause states (and seek specific advice from a lawyer if you have questions). For more details about how to handle rescheduling and cancellations, see How to Initiate Postponements and Cancellations Regarding Coronavirus (& What to Do With Your Client Contracts).

Here’s what to say:

  • When you want to be proactive and ask clients to reschedule/resize their event
  • When you send the rescheduling amendment

When you want to be proactive and ask clients to reschedule/resize their event

Hi XX,

I know that based on recent events and news, the coronavirus is likely top of mind for you. I wanted to check in and make sure you and your loved ones are doing okay! 

Your safety and well-being are my top priorities, and I wanted to reach out so we can figure out the best way to make your event memorable together.

A couple of options we have:

  • We can postpone and reschedule your event to the earliest possible date in the future. If you have a specific date or a month in mind, please let me know and I will give you my availability. If you have not decided yet, I can give you my availability for the next few months. 

After we pick a new date I will send you a rescheduling amendment that will be exactly the same as our previously signed contract, except it will list the new date and state your retainer would be transferred to your future event date. Once we all sign the new contract, your new date will be booked. 

  • We can reduce the number of attendees at your [event name] as per the recommendation of the CDC in our area of [give CDC recommendation].

I’d love to schedule a call to discuss how you’re feeling and the best path forward.

Rest assured, I will do whatever it takes to make your [event name] a success. Whatever you need, I’m here to help. 

I look forward to speaking with you!

Thanks,

XX

When you send the rescheduling amendment

Hi XX,

Thank you so much for speaking with me today. I’m glad that we were able to figure out a solution for your event together. 

As we discussed, I have attached the rescheduling amendment with the newly agreed upon dates and the transfer of your retainer to the new event date. Please review and sign when you get the chance. After the new contract is signed by everyone, your new date will be officially locked in. 

I look forward to making your event memorable. In the meantime, please let me know how else I can help.

Thanks!

XX

Need a rescheduling contract? HoneyBook members can learn more about where to find the Rescheduling Amendment in their accounts here. The Legal Paige also has a Contract Addendum/Rescheduling Contract/Cancellation Contract Bundle available for purchase here.

When your client cancels

Unfortunately, despite your best efforts to get your client to reschedule, some will still decide to cancel. In this case, use the template below along with a cancellation amendment. HoneyBook members can learn more about where to find the Cancellation Amendment in their accounts here. The Legal Paige also has a Contract Addendum/Rescheduling Contract/Cancellation Contract Bundle available for purchase here.

Hi XX,

Thank you so much for speaking with me today. I am sorry we could not find a date that works for us, but I am still so excited for you! 

As we discussed, I have attached the cancellation amendment to void our previous contract. After the new contract is signed by everyone, our old agreement will be voided.

My goal is to ensure you’re taken care of in my absence, so I would recommend [insert name of back-up service provider] of [insert business name of back-up service provider]. [insert name of back-up service provider] is a trusted friend and colleague of mine and I know that [she/he] will take great care of you. Please take a look at [his/her] [insert their IG/website/etc.]

[*If you are giving your clients a refund, you could say:]

As this is a terrible time for everyone, and per our contract, I will give you a [full/partial/percentage] refund back.

[If you are not giving a refund per your cancellations and rescheduling policy, you could say:]

While I know this is a terrible time for everyone, per our contract and the cancellations and rescheduling policy, we are within [insert time block as per contract] which means that I cannot give you a refund.

[If you are not giving a refund per your force majeure policy, you could say:]

While I know this is a terrible time for everyone, per our contract and the force majeure clause, you will forfeit only the retainer, but not incur any remaining fees under the contract.

Thank you again for your time and I hope we can work together in the future!

Thanks!

XX

Note: Most contracts are now in force majeure land, not cancellation/rescheduling clause land. You must follow what your contract’s force majeure clause states (and seek specific advice from a lawyer if you have questions). Under force majeure circumstances, whether or not you have to refund the retainer is a grey area. Review your contract language to better understand your options. Attorney Paige Griffith of The Legal Paige wrote a post with more details (see “The tricky part about cancellations”).

More Resources

HoneyBook

More than a CRM, HoneyBook is a proactive platform for creative small businesses to create, review, and manage—all in one place. From first reply to final payment, HoneyBook makes it easy for solopreneurs to book their ideal client faster, more frequently, and with less legwork.

Get 50% off your first year of HoneyBook here: http://share.honeybook.com/R4FbA

Leave a Reply

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This