Our Top 3 Tips: Facing big decisions about your conference due to COVID-19
Everyone is well and truly feeling the effects of the pandemic.
Size limits on gatherings, immense reductions in air services, travel restrictions and concern across the community have combined to effectively make holding a conference in the immediate future impossible.
We are already starting to see conference industry operators cease trading and/or operate on a significantly reduced basis.
What to do if you are planning a conference? Some are turning to digital alternatives, which is great if it works for you but this is not always a viable option. Here are our top three tips:
01. TRY TO DEFER OR POSTPONE RATHER THAN CANCEL
It may be impossible to proceed on your intended dates, but remember cancellation represents a 100% loss of all the effort and resources you have already invested in the event. You can postpone even without yet having new dates to announce.Postponement gives you options and enables you to maintain some value from the investments you have made to date;Deferment will reduce the demand for refunds and demonstrate your support and concern for all who have already engaged with the event;There were good reasons behind your decision to hold your conference in the first place and these are now all the more valid in these challenging times.
02. WORK WITH YOUR SUPPLIERS AND PARTNERS
No one is cancelling their event without incurring significant penalties. These can be minimised by working with your partners and suppliers towards new dates for your conference or even a new conference in the future;If suppliers are confident of retaining your business at a future date they have incentive to offer you more flexible and accommodating terms. This will preserve a greater portion of your existing investment;Understand the needs and concerns of the suppliers and partners. Everyone is under pressure and concerned about expenditure and revenue. Now is not the time to be unreasonable.
03. PLAN TO RESCHEDULE AT THE SOONEST POSSIBLE DATE
The Federal Government has announced that they expect measures to be in place for six months. Airlines have announced service reductions, through to end of May and June. This suggests an easing in October 2020, but of course there are no guarantees. We are working with clients to move conferences to October, November and even early December 2020. This has been well received by stakeholders and intending delegates; By holding your conference at the earliest practicable date you will maintain much of the momentum already created and also demonstrate leadership within your sector;Whenever this pandemic ends, there will very likely be significant demand for meeting spaces and venues. By planning now you will have the widest choice of available dates.
At some point in the future things will return to normality.
Demand for the services of the conference sector, comprising all manner of businesses from venues and hotels to technology suppliers and guest speakers, which have served clients and delegates so well for decades, will return and even increase.
To ensure that those experienced and valuable businesses and people are there to serve your future needs, we all need to provide them with support and potential future income now.
We believe that postponing your conference is the best option for your organisation, your stakeholders, your participants and all of the suppliers involved. Please give this option your serious consideration.
Please get in touch today if you require services such as: Conference Management in response to COVID-19 Contingency and Risk Reduction Planning
Ashley C. Gordon
PROPRIETOR & DIRECTOR CLIENT RELATIONS
CARILLON CONFERENCE MANAGEMENT