Prepare for the best, expect the worst is a motto to live by in the live events world. As we all know, and as we’ve said before, things will never go 100% to plan so it’s crucial to keep this in mind. No one wants to have to cancel, whether it was brought on by something avoidable or unavoidable. The reality is that there is a possibility that organizers could encounter obstacles that will interfere with the show going on. Since it’s never a guarantee that no challenges will come your way, there are steps to take that will help reduce the possibilities of major disasters.
As part of our second tip campaign, we’ve compiled our top 5 recommendations that can help organizers tackle the issues before they get out of hand and they can avoid having to cancel.
1. Analyze the weather patterns
Unfortunately weather is unpredictable; however you can minimize the risk of this particular threat by understanding more about your chosen location. If you are hosting an outdoor event especially, you should consider historical weather patterns, flood data and even forecasts before settling on a venue (but this is not exclusive to outdoor events). All these factors play a huge role in picking the right location at the right time of year, whether you’re hosting your event in a fixed venue or in the open air.
Don’t forget that it’s not just about event data - weather can impact the entire event lifecycle so planning for potential setbacks is a crucial part of ensuring everything gets done on time.
2. Avoid competing events and holidays
Before finalizing your date and venue, do your research. You’ll want to ensure you are avoiding any major competing events that you could lose potential attendees to or even make it difficult for your fans to get to your event. Holidays are also important to avoid, as obvious as it may seem. People are more likely to be out of town or unavailable and it could even cause a major traffic rush that would make roads or transportation a nightmare for getting to your venue.
Competition could also make it difficult for fans to find accommodations, as they would likely be sparse and even more expensive around the holidays. This could ultimately make them reconsider attending the event.
Rather than competing with other events and holidays and hanging all your hopes on attendees choosing your event over another, settle for a different date altogether.
3. Do your venue research
Do your due diligence. Before committing to a specific location, get to know the venue’s track record. You don’t want to be booking a venue that has a known history for flooding or is unsafe for large crowds for example. This could go hand in hand with understanding the weather data we talked about earlier and you could use this to your advantage when it comes to choosing a location for hosting your event. (Maybe the outdoor venue you’re considering for September gets pummeled with rain every year.) In any case, if there have been canceled events at the venue previously, get to know the ‘why’. If there is an issue that seems to be recurring, maybe this venue isn’t the best choice.
If your venue plans fall through, you don’t want to be left out in the cold without a location to host your event. No place to host? This would certainly lead to having to cancel. You should always be prepared with a backup plan just in case things don’t go your way (have you read our 5 tips for planning a successful event?). To avoid this potential fiasco, having a plan for a backup venue could be a life saver. This could mean booking an alternative venue or it could be as simple as having tents or temporary indoor spaces in place for your outdoor event. Just in case, see what else is out there and available for your event. Be mindful of what the absolute latest is that you can secure a second venue and sort out Plan B dates.
4. Include a variety of talent
Diversify. Depending on your type of event, do your best to secure a variety of talent, vendors, etc. It is never wise to hinge the success of your event on a single performer, artist or talent. Non-appearance could ultimately lead to an event cancellation if there’s no one to fill their shoes.
Festivals are seeing better success than standard headline tours when it comes to ticket sales and attendance. People are opting to take advantage of the chance to see multiple acts at once. For these types of events, organizers might have an easier time filling the gaps for a no-show.
In the event that a performer or speaker cannot attend, have a solution ready to implement to fill the time. Having multiple talents booked in these events could also be a lifesaver. You don’t want to be scrambling at the last minute to come up with an alternative plan. Modify the schedule to extend sets of other performers or invite another guest (if it’s not too late of course). Alternatively, events such as conferences can also open up the floor for a Q&A or give the opportunity to have a networking session.
Whenever possible, take the opportunity to book multiple performers or speakers to have an easier time dealing with non-appearances if it comes to that.
5. Protect your crew and fans
Understand the needs for the crowd size you are expecting. Outlining and detailing out the specifics about everything pertaining to your event's safety is a key step. Having an idea of your crowd size will allow you to prepare to have an appropriate sized security team, a safe and clear check-in process and an emergency evacuation plan. It's crucial to communicate with your team and emergency services what the plan is to avoid any catastrophe. Preparing to handle the issues when they arise could be the difference between a minor inconvenience and a complete cancellation of your event.
Putting the safety of your fans and staff first should go without saying - but we’re going to say it anyway. Having event cancellation insurance will be a huge relief when it comes to having to make a difficult decision to cancel. You know that you can make the right call before things get out of hand and you are still financially protected. It's a win-win really.
Next up, we’ll cover what you should do if things go south and you're forced to cancel.