When planning an event, a number of details, big and small, run through your head – date, time, venue, caterer, seating, music, guest list, and so on. However, one element of event planning that rarely comes to mind is a big one, and that’s Plan B.

Sure, you may have a list of options for caterers, for example, if your first choice is already booked. But that’s not what we are taking about.

What do you do when all the time and hard worked you put into your event comes to a crashing halt? In other words, what do you do when you are suddenly faced with the undesirable reality of having to postpone?

Whether it was bad weather, a conflict of interest, or your main players are unavailable, you are suddenly met with an even greater task of rescheduling everything. From venue to caterers to guests, you need to maintain a level head to successfully reschedule.

Here are some recommendations:

1. Inform vendors and/or service providers, sponsors, partners or committee members, and any keynote speakers.

This seems like an obvious one, but some people may hold off because they are scared of the back lash, especially from vendors. Yes, some may be frustrated, especially those who may have already put in orders. Nevertheless, notifying your vendors/service providers immediately may allow you to catch them before orders are made. Additionally, you can let them know your new event date.

Side note: Always refer to your contracts in regards to rescheduling services.

Secondly, remember your team is on your side! Allow them to help you manage the adjustments to your plan. Speed is key here, and team work is exactly what you need to pull it off. Don’t be afraid to brainstorm alternative dates to determine the best new time for your event, as well as enlist their help to notify sponsors, keynote, or any other key players that need to be told of the new arrangement.

2. Let your guests/ticket holders know what is going on.

Once you have a new plan set in place, you need to notify your guest and/or ticket holders of what is going on via email, ticket platforms, social media, website, and so on. Be sure to clearly communicate the changes to reduce the level of confusion and highlight your commitment to them. Instilling trust is paramount.

What you should include:

  • The reason for postponing. (Don’t be afraid of sharing your reason for postponing. People don’t like to be left in the dark. Instead, they want to understand what’s going on.)
  • New event date.
  • Information on your refund policy.
  • Contact information to customer support.
  • A link to some FAQs.
  • Engage with your attendees online. (Share relevant content pertinent to the new event.)

Side Note: Odds are you will lose a few guests in the process, but the upside is that you have time to sell more tickets!

3. Update your event listing!

Step two and three should happen simultaneously, especially if you are announcing the postponement on public platforms (i.e. social media, websites, etc.). That being said, you need to do your due diligence in altering the information on all fronts. If you are hosting a local event, for example, you should update all community calendars you engaged to promote your event.

Whatever challenges you may face when postponing an event, always remember that you can bounce back. Sometimes reasons beyond our control stand in the way, but keep in mind that this event gave people a sense of belonging a togetherness. All the pieces will fall into place in the end!