Plan B- What To Do When Your Event is Cancelled?

The event industry has been changing, and, oooh boy, have there been some growing pains. It’s been two years of primarily nonexistent in-person events, but we’ve all been learning to adapt to our current situation. The way you work might be different now, and the way you all prepare for future events has probably changed as well. This article explores what we can do to better prepare for an event cancellation and make the bounce-back less painful.

We had a recent experience where a month’s worth of work left our print, production, and fabrication shops and promptly returned to us. Unfortunately, the show had been cancelled two hours into the installation process. Clients’ displays had been designed, printed, fabricated, mocked up, packed up, and brought to the show. Phew! Everything was unloaded into the event centre when they announced the postponement. This was one thing for us and our type of involvement in the show but for all the attendees that had to cancel flights or turn their cars around while road tripping to an event, well, that’s even trickier business.

So, what now?

If you had a slew of sales meetings planned, make it your team’s mission to reach out to those you couldn’t connect with. In place of a face-to-face meet-up, contact them over the phone or get in touch virtually and see if it’s possible to get things moving without meeting up with each other. Try to reach out as soon as humanly possible. They almost certainly had multiple meetings planned for the show, and you’ve probably got some competition. Initiative in getting ahold of your missed connections will look good for you and your company. Consider having a list of all your appointments with contact information printed out and ready to go before the show. That way, you can immediately get started on your calls if the show doesn’t work out.

If you had presentations to give or planned product demonstrations, consider a webinar or your own online event. If you had a brochure, a checklist, or any print takeaways to hand out at the show, have your designer develop a digital version of these printouts and get them out there anyways. You could include them in your company newsletter, let people know about them on your social media, or have them available on your website. And speaking of social media, try to expand your social reach to help get more people involved and interested. Paid social can be an excellent way to help target interested parties and get people to hear about what you have to offer. Here is an interesting article about to expand organically as well. Since your money won’t be going toward trade show marketing, put it toward something that will go out and do some work for you.


If your trade show is cancelled, you can always try reaching out to the host and see if you can tag along with any connecting they’ll be doing themselves. Perhaps they’ll have an email list of show attendees they’d be willing to share, or maybe they will be hosting an online version of the trade show that never happened. So many of us rely on trade shows for lead generation, and if you can find unique ways to make deeper connections than those we can make on social media, you’re taking steps in the right direction.

Your websites must be up to date and ready to rumble. Conveying the most recent information possible will help people know how your business does things in the era of COVID policy and if you’ll be around the office or on the phone to help them or not. Let people know that you’re still out there! Your website is a great place to upload all the aforementioned digital documents you didn’t get to hand out at your show. Announcement banners are always an excellent idea as well. They are easily edited and can communicate what you want in that exact moment without needing to rewrite or redesign more significant parts of your site.

Hotels, flights, and rental cars, oh my! This one might be obvious but always book something that you’ll be able to cancel last-minute. Many places now have the option to pay a little extra to be able to cancel at your heart’s desire. On a personal note, I booked a flight to Toronto this summer that allowed me to cancel last minute if need be, and with the ever-changing restrictions, that gave me a lot of peace of mind. It may even be a good idea to do some research on event cancellation insurance and how it can cover your butts. Show freight, shipments, trade show booth rentals, and floor space sure add up when it comes to expenses. So finding coverage that ensures you don’t lose your money might be worth your while if you can find some.

While our industry continues to evolve and roll out new procedures, there’s going to be a possibility of events not getting pulled off. That’s just the nature of growth. Unfortunately, you’ve got to fall a few times before you can land that backflip, but we can always make things a little safer for ourselves by having a little cushioning underneath us.

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