Whether you’re planning a private or corporate event, there’s always a chance that something unforeseen could happen and will cause you to push back the date. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re one of the following:
- A professional event planner
- Someone tasked to handle the event (either one-off or on occasion)
- The celebrant or event owner
Factors like weather anomalies, socio-political disturbances, health-related advisories, and other similar forces could arise. Of course, it could also be due to internal disruptions – like multiple event speakers backing out or the birthday celebrant not being able to fly in on time.
At this stage, we’d like to remind you… don’t worry! The event is still happening and can still be a success. The bright side is that you will even be able to have extra time to finetune things.
This comprehensive guide will take you through the step-by-step on how to reschedule an event. Let’s get started!
In this section, we will talk about the essential things to settle for any event type – private, public, or corporate.
Advise Your Service Providers
The first step is to speak with your service providers. These can be your…
- Venue provider
- Entertainment provider
- Decorations, lights, and flowers
- Rented AV and other miscellaneous equipment
- Photography services
Please note that if your event relies heavily on the attendance of key speakers or VIP’s, it would be best to do this first step concurrently with the next step.
Promptness of Notice
First of all, you will need to speak to your vendors. If you’ve got yourself a package deal, you may need to speak to only one point of contact. But if this is not the case, you’d need to remember to speak to all of your vendors as soon as possible. The minimum amount of notice is 24 hours. But if you find out sooner, it’s best to communicate this as soon as possible.
Minimising Costs and Penalties
If you have contracts with each individual vendor, it would be best to pull those up and look for any stipulations that will allow you to move the date without incurring any penalties or fees. You can also check with your event insurance if you’d be covered for some of the additional costs of moving dates.
Speak to Vital Attendees or Key Players: VIPs, Partners, & Speakers
At this stage, your service providers for the event (or at least the major ones) already know that you are changing dates. Next, loop in your VIP’s, partners, speakers, and/or colleagues whose attendance is absolutely vital to the event. This is particularly important for corporate and public events.
Working Out the New Date
The final date could still be in the air, depending on certain key players. Work out what will be a workable new date for most (if not all) of them. If an agreement for a new date cannot be worked out unanimously, you may need to rank how essential each key player is to the event and prepare to replace those that you can.
If you want the attendance of all key players (meaning very little change will be made to the event), the new chosen date may need to be farther away. The problem with this, however, is how the rest of the attendees would receive the news of a new date that is farther away. So make sure to find the balance.
Completeness of Information and Promptness of Notice
If any of your key players need to travel to your event, you’d want to make sure that they know immediately – so put them first on the list and it would be best to inform them via phone call.
Also, when communicating with your VIPs, partners, and speakers, whether it’s via email or call, you’d want to present all the vital information at the get-go. So make sure to include the following:
- The reason for the postponement of the event
- Preferred alternative dates (and the venue-change if appli
- A statement of asking for their help in finding other partners/speakers in case they cannot attend
Announce the Rescheduling to the Rest of the Attendees
At this stage, you want to make sure that your service providers for the event along with key players are in the know. Also, you need to make sure that the new date is already established and be aware of any other changes that happened as a result (e.g. the venue may have changed).
You are now ready to cascade the changed date, along with any other resulting event changes, to your attendees. Whether you are speaking to attendees of a private, public, or corporate event, here are some best practices that you can abide by.
Completeness of Information
Let your attendees know the vital information on what happened. This minimises the need for follow up questions that could take time to answer.
Make sure to include the following:
- A clear subject line stating that the message is regarding event postponement (if email is to be used)
- Why the event was postponed
- The new date for the event
- An empathic statement
- Contact details for customer support and/or the point person to speak to for further questions and/or arrangements
- Shortcut to the refund policy (if applicable)
Multichannel Approach and Promptness of Notice
Some attendees would not anticipate or expect a change of dates at all, so it’s best to have a multichannel approach in reaching out to them. Basically, cast the net wide; don’t just stop with email. You can also use social media or SMS since these are channels that most people check more often in a day. You can even call each attendee regarding the change of dates. This latter point is especially important for paid events where immediate notice regarding any event change is key.
Do These Extra Things If You’ve Postponed a Paid Event
These aren’t just private parties or company gatherings. Since money is involved in paid events, it is essential to take these extra steps.
Update your Event Listing
For any event postponement, the possibility of losing attendees is always there. However, on the plus side, the sooner you communicate the change and the sooner the opt outs happen, the sooner will you also be able to resell the ticket/slot that was given up.
Once the new date (along with any other resulting changes) is established, make sure to update your event listing. Some event listing sites/services include a way to message your attendees while also giving them the option to ask for a refund easily. This latter part would be dependent on your settings.
Prepare for Online Engagement
Some of your attendees would still be confused about the event postponement, while others would be downright upset about the change. These are common responses and would most likely be posted on your social media accounts because some attendees just want immediate answers.
All in all, it’s best to have a plan on how to respond to the following: upset attendees, attendees that want a refund, confused attendees, neutral attendees, and even, understanding attendees that might come to your defense or attendees that will still say something positive about you. This, however, is different from fixed scripts as people tend to dislike those. Instead, the plan can include a guide on tonality and what information to include for the different reactions you will get. This will greatly help whoever is manning your social media.
Win Them Back
Let’s face it, change of dates can be a hassle and can disappoint a lot of people. But the good news is, there are plenty of ways to make it up to both your attendees that will still show up and those that opted out. This can be in the form of gift bags, complimentary drinks, or discounts. A little goes a long way and people will respond positively when they see you’re putting in the effort.