Many events have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in cancellations. Some vendors have returned deposits while others have agreed to hold them as a credit toward rescheduled events. Then there are those who have refused refunds or credits altogether.
Why the difference?
It often comes down to the terms included in your contract.
With uncertainty around the outbreak and, consequently, when in-person events may take place, it’s important to review the cancellation policy to avoid a penalty. Also, be sure to ask the following questions before signing on the dotted line.
Is a deposit due? If so, how large and when?
Many vendors require a deposit be paid up to two weeks prior to the event. The money is often used to compensate talent in a timely manner or cover other associated fees.
The deposit amount will vary by vendor but is typically 50 per cent of the cost cited in the contract. An event that requires significant hard costs, such as permits, builds and rentals, may require a greater deposit amount, up to 75 per cent.
Is the deposit refundable should you decide not to go through with the contract? How long does it take to get it back?
The contract should specify how much notice is required to cancel an event to receive a full deposit refund. However, a deposit may not be fully refundable as the vendor has already incurred expenses in planning the event, including staff costs. If an event is cancelled on very short notice, the entire deposit could be forfeited.
The time it takes to post a refund, in whole or part, will depend on the vendor. Typically, you should get your deposit back between seven and 30 days.
What if you need to add or eliminate something shortly before the event?
More often than not, vendors can accommodate additional items like chairs, linens and registration staff; however, there may be a rush fee.
Alternately, if you want to take away items, perhaps due to fewer registrations as people stay away because of COVID-19 fears, there may be a nominal charge as items may have already been ordered or put on hold, or the service completed, such as a custom build or signage. Generally, it’s more costly to eliminate items than to add them.
What happens if weather affects your ability to run the event?
Inclement weather is considered a natural occurrence, so it usually won’t impact the contract. In most cases, the vendor can’t be held liable should it be unable to hold up their end of the agreement due to circumstances that are not within their control. Because of this, it’s important to plan for contingencies early to ensure your event can still take place.
Joanna Beaton is an account manager at Tigris Events Inc., an award-winning brand experience agency specializing in dynamic staffing, event planning and marketing. Joanna can be reached at 416-283-9119, 1-844-484-4747 or firstname.lastname@example.org.