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The event industry was one of the first to feel the impacts of the COVID-19 global pandemic. With travel restrictions, social distancing protocols, and shelter-in-place measures across the world, associations hosting their annual conferences, chapter events, and board meetings have been faced with difficult decisions to make regarding their events.

Canceling an event is not a common situation associations are used to. There are many factors to consider before making such an impactful decision.

  1. Review Your Budget – Identify the revenue and expenses related to your event. This will help with other decisions such as how to proceed with registration refunds, negotiating with venues, etc.
  2. Coordinate with Vendors – Coordinate with the venue and other vendors hired for your event. Be sure to read through all contracts carefully and discuss negotiations for alternative options such as rebooking or postponing.
  3. Discuss the Impact – Consider the impact canceling your event will have on the attendees and association members. Attendees heavily rely on the PDH or CEU credits that these events provide, so offering alternative methods with similar benefits is critical.
  4. Research Alternative Methods – As referenced above, explore other methods of hosting your event, either by offering a virtual event or postponing. If these are viable options, you will have less concern about canceling your event.


When the best option is, in fact, to cancel your event, here are a few best practices to keep in mind:

  • Be proactive in your communication with relevant stakeholders such as exhibitors, sponsors, attendees, etc. Explain that you have been monitoring the situation closely and frame the decision as being in the best interest of your attendees, speakers, and partners.
  • Establish a clear refund/registration transfer policy for attendees and other stakeholders.
  • Create a webpage where people can find more information regarding the status of your event and include FAQs.
  • Coordinate with your legal team early so they are aware of – and can manage – any contractual decisions.


Are you struggling with event planning and logistics for your association? Stansfeld, LLC specializes in event planning expertise and can help you manage your events with ease. Contact us for more information.