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  • Jennifer Kerhin, MBA, CEM

Post-Cancellation Vendor Communication

You have made the difficult decision to cancel your trade show. Your primary concern will be communicating with your speakers, attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors. It is equally important that you communicate with the vendors hired to assist with your event. This includes but is not limited to:

· Sales Team

· Meeting Planners

· Registration

· General Services Contractor/Decorator

· PR/Marketing Firm

· Lead Retrieval

· AV Technicians

· Security Team

· Catering Staff

· Exhibitor Insurance Firm

Maintaining open lines of communication with these partners will ensure a smoother process as you navigate these times of uncertainty in our industry. Use the steps below as a checklist for communicating with your industry partners.

1. Review All Vendor Contracts - Most contracts contain cancellation clauses. Before you contact your vendors to inform them that your event has been cancelled, review those clauses so that you understand the obligations you have to one another.

2. Notify All Vendors in Writing – Vendors cannot take steps to mitigate their losses from a cancelled show until officially notified that the cancellation has occurred. As soon as you are able, submit an official letter from your organization to the vendor notifying them of the change in status of your event.

3. Agree on a Clear Strategy – Your vendors are your partners. Many have collected money from your exhibitors, sponsors, and attendees for various services that were expected to be fulfilled at your event. Develop a clear strategy with each vendor outlining how they will communicate with these event participants, and how they will issue any necessary refunds. Your vendors are a reflection upon your organization, and you need to make certain that these processes run smoothly.

4. Expect Slow Response Time – The past few weeks have been catastrophic for the events industry. Many vendor companies are operating with a small percentage of their staff. The contact with whom you have exchanged daily emails over the past several months may be furloughed or on a part-time work schedule. Be patient when communicating and expect a slower response time.

5. Expect a Bill for Services Rendered – Many vendors submit a bill at the conclusion of an event. If an event is cancelled, expect to be presented with a bill for services rendered. This will include work performed on behalf of your organization up until the date of cancellation.

6. Plan for the Future – Make it clear that you consider your vendor your partner, and that you look forward to working with them on future events. Maintaining good relationships with these service providers will benefit you as you navigate your event cancellation, and as you begin to prepare for future events.


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