With escalating concern and uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many event-goers are anxious to hear what the events they’ve bought a ticket to are planning to do. As mass amounts of new information come out every day, event organizers are diligently working on the best ways to ensure the health and safety of all their attendees, staff, vendors and suppliers. On top of this, to-do lists are a mile long with decisions to be made and communicated with their attendees.
Event organizers are facing the impossible right now. How do they keep their event-goers safe? How do they minimize loss to continue business? How do they do their best by their event-goers to compensate for their investment? With so many many things to consider, we’ve outlined 5 tips to help get you started with your communication efforts.
Start considering every aspect of your event. What can you do? What should you do? How are you going to do it? Consider giving your attendees as many options as you’re able to. Popular ones have been a rescheduled date or a virtual event, the offer of a refund, making the registration amount into a donation (optional tax receipt) or deferring to the next year’s event.
Open Communication Quickly
These decisions are hard, and maybe you don’t have all of the answers right away. Tell your attendees as much as you can, and set a time frame for when they’ll hear more. For example, if you aren’t sure if a new date can be offered but you are exploring that, tell your attendees.
“We are talking to our venue about selecting a new date. We don’t have the answers yet, but feel confident we can make a decision in ____ days or weeks.”
Giving people an expectation of when they will have new information is a very good thing. Don’t be afraid to start communicating before you have all the answers.
Because of everything involved with an event experience, anything you’re about to say is likely bad news to someone. Do your best to give your attendees the reasons behind your decisions. If possible, stay open to direct messages to consider on a one by one basis. We understand that sometimes refunds are an impossible feat, sponsors may have had to drop out but money has already been spent on the event. Be upfront to your attendees for what to expect and be genuine if you need their help. They aren’t the event experts, they’re looking to you for answers.
This is a hard time, and undoubtedly you’ll be delivering a hard message. You’re not alone. People all over the world right now have been in your shoes. Know that this will be the hardest part, things will slowly start falling into place when you’ve mapped out a strategy.
Keep Communication Open
Your attendees may want to connect with you so you’ll need to be aware of this as part of your communication strategy. It’s important to be present and accountable and to offer to listen to your attendees. Your main focus will be this immediate news, but look forward to other happy news to share with your attendees. Think of new ways to engage with them and thank them for their support at this time. Also, have plans to launch next year, maybe sooner than usual but for anyone deferring, it will be a relief to have updated tickets safely saved in their emails.
Offering alternatives and solutions can be seen as a silver lining during this hard time. Connect with your attendees, be as honest as you can and do your best to emphasize with any who reach out to you. Reframe the situation as much as possible, it’s not safe right now, but it will be! And when it is, your event will be back bigger and better than before!