2020 Summer Olympics moved to 2021. The Masters shifted to the fall. MLB, NHL and NBA seasons are all suspended for now. Trade shows like Expo West are shifting their focus to events later in the year. The list goes on and on.

For a time, the publishers of the tech-focused lifestyle website, The Verge, even bought and maintained the informative site isitcanceledyet.com. As the spread of coronavirus caused the cancellation of almost every face-to-face live event, the list grew so long that the home page simply displayed the word “yes” under the number 2020.

Carte blanche cancellation of events is needed for public safety, but the reality of the snowballing financial toll is devastating. This not only impacts the venues where events were to take place, but it also affects all of the essential services associated with it. From security and audio/video to catering and dining, every large event cancellation involves scores of small businesses. Local restaurants, hotels and shops — normally big beneficiaries of spending by throngs of out-of-towners — won’t even be open.

Most events often lean on corporate sponsors for cash needed to pay deposits and personnel until the event’s conclusion. Those sponsors immediately diverted funds, leaving many event promoters underwater, and event insurance does not provide coverage for “exceptional circumstances.” The city of Austin, Texas estimates its losses from the cancellation of South By Southwest (SXSW) at around $355 million.

What now?

  • Re-allocate your budgets. If your company scheduled floor or booth space at a canceled industry event or trade show, it is important to quickly move that spend into other media. MBI’s Media Strategists can help you carefully analyze your options based on timing, budgets, targeting and specific KPIs.
  • Thankfully, numerous digital event production platforms are available for virtual conference streaming. The Professional Convention Management Association provides significant guidance to their members who have canceled live events.
  • What if you or your team had planned on attending a 2020 event? Every situation is different, but some commonalities are emerging. For outright cancelations, refunds to ticket holders or deposits paid by registered attendees are rare. Events or festivals whose existence survives 2020 may allow funds to be deferred to 2021’s event.

We are actively working with our clients for readdressing and redirecting event focused marketing budgets into effective media platforms that will provide similar consumer impact. Our team is also helping clients restructure sponsorship contractual commitments by working with media vendors to mitigate media commitments and costs due to event cancelations.

MBI’s media team is keenly aware that effective business events are vital tools for companies of all types. We will work hand in hand with your organization or event planner to help position your business in this tumultuous time and connect with your target audiences.