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How to Not Get “Canceled” When Canceling an Event: A guide to canceling and postponing events

Whether you are organizing a pole party or showcase in your pole studio or managing a much bigger event like a convention or pole competition, the best-laid plans often go awry. No matter how carefully and thoroughly you plan something, things can still go wrong.  Though we always hope for the best and keep a positive mindset, sometimes canceling or postponing an event is the only way to go.

Continue reading for reasons why you might cancel or postpone an event, how to do it, and some other things to consider.

Reasons why you might need to cancel an event

There are many reasons why event cancellation might be necessary. Some alternatives to canceling exist, such as postponing or shifting to an online event, but they may not be a fit for every type of event.

Weather complications

Event cancellation notices due to weather may be necessary if extreme weather occurs, or if your event primarily takes place outside and specific conditions are necessary. Large storms, such as hurricanes or blizzards, may make it dangerous or impossible for attendees to travel to the event.

Low attendance

If you’re not seeing the number of ticket sales you need to cover the costs of your event and turn a profit, it may be better to cancel the event rather than go through with it. This will depend on whether or not you’re able to get refunds from the vendors you’ve already paid if the lack of revenue is so great that it’s better to lose your deposits than see the event through.

Venue complications

If your venue pulls out at the last minute and you don’t have a backup site, you may not have a choice but to cancel your event. If your event is small, you might be able to secure a second venue with only a short timeframe, but this can be more challenging for larger events. Last-minute bookings can also come with higher price tags, which might not work for your budget.

Internal complications

As an organizer, you know that events have many moving parts and third parties involved — and sometimes those third parties can cause complications. A key vendor could back out at the last minute or you may deal with delays in obtaining key permits or licenses. Some inconveniences can be overcome, but others, such as lacking a necessary legal permit, could mean you need to cancel.

How to (gracefully) cancel your event

1. Stop sales immediately

Once the final decision has been made to cancel your event, make sure to cease selling tickets immediately. This will help reduce dissatisfaction from your ticket buyers and prevent the need to refund more people after the event has already been terminated.

2. Communicate with your attendees

In a perfect world, you want to give attendees at least 24 hours’ notice, but the earlier you can communicate the cancellation to them, the better. This is especially true if many attendees are traveling long distances and need time to rearrange travel plans, hotels, and transport.

3. Issue full refunds

If you charged for tickets, you should issue a full refund to attendees promptly. If your event runs for multiple days and only one day is canceled, consider offering a partial or prorated refund to multi-day ticket holders. A partial refund may also make sense if you’re moving your event online as a consideration for the change in what you’ll be providing to your attendees. When emailing attendees, be clear about refund amounts, when you’ll start processing refunds, and when attendees should expect to see refunds credited to their accounts.

4. Reflect and assess

No matter the reason for canceling your event, it’s important to examine what went wrong and determine if there are relief strategies you can put in place for future events. You won’t be able to prevent natural disasters, but you may want to take the time to work out cancellation clauses in your vendor contracts or come up with backup options. You may also want to invest in event insurance which can help you process refunds and cover any venue costs when weather is the biggest factor.

Why you might postpone, rather than cancel, an event

Issues with an event don’t always mean a total wash.  Sometimes it may not be necessary to fully bail on an event but push back the date for a more ideal situation and offer some positive perks.

1. You are getting more time to prepare

The situation is depressing, but it is possible to put a positive spin on it. If you postpone your events for a few months, you can use that time to do more research, understand the factors that would make your events more well-rounded and engaging, and implement them. If you simply cancel the event, you miss out on the chance.

2. You are not missing out on the investments

At this point, you have spent substantial money, used up ample resources, and invested a lot of time in planning your upcoming event. Canceling it right away puts everything to waste. Instead, if you postpone strategically—you can ensure that your investments are not lost, and you can get the potential desired returns (just a little later).

3. You can avoid the challenges of refunds

Ideally, you opened ticket sales, and have already earned a healthy ticket revenue. Now, if you cancel the event, you have to refund the entire amount to all those prospective attendees while also potentially having to pay for venue or other fees. If you go for a postponement instead, you will not have to worry about these hefty refunds and can not lose additional money for anything you’ve already spent.

4. You will be able to deliver a better attendee experience

Postponing the event will allow you to deliver on this expectation of the potential attendees. An outright cancellation, on the other hand, will disappoint people. That’s not something you are trying to avoid as much as possible if you intend to stay in the event business.


In general, no one likes a “monkey wrench” in their plans, and canceling or delaying any event will inevitably bring disappointment. However, how you handle the situation is what people will truly remember and appreciate.  Keep communication clear and adhere to the policies you laid out to reduce stress on yourself and your attendees.

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