Whether or not your local community is affected by the recent virus outbreak, the event industry as a whole is hurting. Per the CDC’s recent recommendation to postpone events over 10 people, many weddings, conferences, and private events have been cancelled or postponed. Although that recommendation only applies for 15 days, you’re likely worried about the long-term consequences to your event business during coronavirus.
We know that this time is uncertain for many, and the event industry is no exception. This is uncharted territory for all of us, and next steps seem unclear right now. These tips and resources will help you manage and make long-term preparations for your business during coronavirus.
Know Your Limitations
If they haven’t already, clients with upcoming events will be contacting you to cancel or reschedule. Be prepared to answer questions like, “Can I get a refund?” and, “When can I reschedule my event?” While you may not have specific answers, do let clients know that you’re working on getting answers. And, if possible, let them know when you’ll have answers. If clients call to cancel their event, ask if they want to reschedule instead. That way, you can keep their business, and they can still celebrate. (Just make sure your calendar is in front of you before you ask!)
We also suggest that you follow up with clients based on event date. For example, work out any refunds, rescheduling, or cancellations for the events that are happening sooner. You may receive calls or emails from panicked clients, even if their events are months away. While those calls are important, focus your immediate attention on events happening in the next 2-3 weeks.
Businesses and individuals alike are finding new ways to connect with each other and engage in their communities, while still supporting their businesses. It might be time to consider other services you can offer to keep your business running. For example, if you’re a caterer, you probably won’t be attending any events in the coming weeks. But can you host a pop-up shop, and serve meals for take-out? Or perhaps you’re an entertainer—consider starting a YouTube channel or sharing your talents online to lift spirits. While residents are stuck inside, they are still looking for ways to support local businesses. Give them a way to do that!
On top of finding new ways to maintain income, your business may be eligible for a low-interest business loan. As of March 23, this is not applicable in all states, but you can visit the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) website for updates regarding your state. The SBA also has additional resources online, including interim guidelines and reducing the COVID-19 stigma.
For additional aid, visit your state government’s website, or your state’s small business bureau. Some states, like New Hampshire, have state-specific programs designed to help small businesses. Some of these programs are in response to COVID-19, while others have been available year-round.
Plan for Six Months
When rescheduling an event, choose a date that’s at least six months away. Right now, no one knows how long the United States or the world will be battling COVID-19. So don’t be afraid to push events out by a few months—or even a year. If clients are impatient, explain that if they reschedule for an earlier date, they’ll likely end up calling again to reschedule. The later the new date, the better!
And as the weeks pass, more and more clients will want to cancel or postpone their events. To accommodate that, consider extended business hours, or working on days you wouldn’t normally work. For example, if a bride’s priority is to be married in a specific month or year, they may have to host a Tuesday wedding. It’s uncommon, but so is managing a business during coronavirus!
Running an event business during coronavirus is challenging, and you may feel worried. But there are some ways you can keep your business running. And because so much is still changing on a regular basis, we encourage you to check the websites we mentioned regularly. There might not be any help for you today—but tomorrow there could be.
What other questions do you have? How can we help you during this time?