A Checklist for Cancelling or Rescheduling an Event

This is an element of events that might not be spoken about often – cancelling or rescheduling an event

It happens. These things are never taken lightly! This actually can make an event organiser very emotional (us). 

When unforeseen circumstances arise, event planning can take unexpected turns. 

Whether it’s due to external factors or internal considerations, knowing how to effectively cancel or reschedule an event is crucial. 

Bonacci Agency, with its years of experience in event planning and management, brings you a comprehensive checklist to navigate the complexities of event adjustments and what you need to do before planning an event to navigate this “worst case scenario”.

Before we start – Remember this about Cancelling or Rescheduling an Event

All needs to be considered in the planning process of the event. This should not be an afterthought. 

When planning any event, have actions in place so that if you need to cancel or reschedule an event, you have the right process in place. 

It is less than ideal, but having it documented and planned in the risk assessment process (a risk assessment isn’t just about Occupational Health and Safety – OHS) and as part of a communication plan is crucial to make sure it is done without it being a “knee jerk reaction”. 

Having a plan in place helps during what can be an emotional process (especially for event planners) and, of course, this can have an impact on both the brand of the event planner and the event host (and if people want to work with you in the future). So having a plan in place can help eliminate some of the emotion from the decision and create some “structure”. 

Lastly, you want to have this plan in place with all major stakeholders’ approval of this cancellation and rescheduling plan. 

Then the main decision maker needs to be decided in this process (whether that be the event manager or someone else). 

If you don’t have a plan in place and now have to cancel or reschedule some of the below checklist will help you too. 

Your Cancelling or Rescheduling an Event Checklist 

1. Assess the Situation/Make the decision:

  • Consult your planning group and major stakeholders and have a discussion about whether to cancel the event. Carefully evaluate the reasons for cancellation or rescheduling. Is it due to unforeseen external factors, logistical issues, or changes in client objectives? Use the plan you made in the planning stage! 

2. Review Contracts:

  • Scrutinise contracts with vendors, venues, and other partners for cancellation or rescheduling clauses. Determine if any penalties or fees apply.

3. Establish a New Date or Plan:

  • If rescheduling, work with your planning groups (clients, stakeholders etc) to determine an alternative date or approach that aligns with their goals and objectives.

4. Review the Communication Strategy and Activate:

  • Work on the messaging around the cancellation of the event and the details on a reschedule (if relevant). Use the communications plan you (hopefully) put together in the planning stage. If not, get writing! This includes drafting a statement. 

5. Notify Sponsors:

  • If any, inform your sponsors as they have made a financial contribution to the event. With the messaging you have mocked up for your sponsors in the communications plan, communicate with them. 

6. Notify Stakeholders:

  • Inform all involved parties, including clients, vendors, entertainers, emergency services and other supporters helping with the event. Discuss rescheduling options, revised contracts, or refunds. Maintain transparent and open communication – continue to work with them during this process.

7. Notify Attendees + the Public:

  • Reach out to registered attendees through various communication channels, providing clear details on the cancellation or new event date. This almost has to be done at the same time as notifying stakeholders so there is no risk of it being leaked (this is very time sensitive). 

8. Stop Selling Tickets: 

  • Process for refunding or credit for existing tickets and also stop the platforms selling tickets. 

9. Update Marketing Materials:

  • Revise all promotional materials, social media posts, and event websites to reflect the changes. Ensure consistency in messaging (your communications plan will help with this).

10. Review Budget Implications:

  • Analyse the financial impact of cancelling or rescheduling the event. Adjust budgets, account for refunds, and update cost projections.

11. Adjust Logistics:

  • Modify logistics plans, such as transportation, catering, seating arrangements, and audiovisual requirements, to fit the new schedule (if applicable).

12. Reassess Event Goals:

  • Take the opportunity to revisit the event’s objectives and ensure they are still aligned with your client’s goals after the changes.

13. Monitor Attendee Responses:

  • Stay engaged with attendees who express concerns or questions. Provide support and address any inquiries promptly.

14. Execute the Plan:

  • Implement the rescheduling or cancellation plan while closely adhering to the updated timeline and objectives.

15. Post-Event Reflection:

  • After the event, reflect on the entire process. What were the key lessons learned? How can these experiences inform future planning?

Keep in mind this is a fast moving process. Another reason why it’s good to consider what would happen IF it were to happen.

A Checklist for Cancelling or Rescheduling an Event

Bonacci Agency Rescheduling an Event Experience 

Here is what happened recently to us! We were organising an event, it was an outdoor one. 

Weather was forecast to be not in the favour for an outdoor event. We made the call to cancel it. Also because it was a safety concern. 

Of course, we can always have backup plans with outdoor events, but this does depend on the deadline given to plan events too (sometimes we don’t have the time to plan for it all). 

But there are loads of things you have to think about when cancelling an event: 

1. Safety 

2. Stakeholders in the event (vendors, sponsors, ticket holders) 

3. Communication about the event cancellation 

All cancelled events are a chance to learn and grow! The good thing? We got to postpone the event and did it a few weeks after! But again, never an easy decision! 

Final thoughts 

We can’t stress this enough. Ensure a cancellation or rescheduling plan is made in the planning stages of this event. Have communication plans ready to go. 

Event planning is a dynamic field that requires adaptability and preparedness for unexpected changes. 

With the Bonacci Agency comprehensive checklist, you can confidently navigate the challenges of cancelling or rescheduling events, ensuring that both clients and attendees are well-informed and supported throughout the process.

But if you think the whole events management process is stressful, let us take care of it – contact us today!