Author Greg Stevning ,
Vice President, Marsh's Entertainment & Media Practice
08/12/2019 · Read time 3 mins
A good chunk of Manhattan’s West Side was plunged into darkness last month in a blackout that lasted several hours. While the good news is that no injuries were reported, the blackout disrupted what would have otherwise been a busy Saturday night during peak tourist season.
For one ticketing services company, more than 1,500 orders were affected, prompting a refund of more than $500,000 for 27 events that were cancelled or postponed, including a Jennifer Lopez concert at Madison Square Garden. And for other sports, entertainment, and event companies, it’s a reminder of the significant financial and reputational harm that can result from even a short-term interruption.
While disruptions like last month’s blackout are not common, extreme weather, including hurricanes and snowstorms, have been known to lead to events being cancelled or postponed, making it essential for event organizers to determine, as early as possible, if a particular storm is expected to interfere with their event. Whether an event is impacted by the weather or another disruption, organizations must have plans in place to take quick action in these eventualities:
Think about situations that could impact your event, including problems that could develop with little or no warning. An established plan should allow you to react quickly and safeguard your investment and protect your employees and patrons. Your contingency plan should be regularly updated and practiced to ensure that all parties are aware of their roles and responsibilities. It’s important to keep in mind that some emergency situations might lead to communication difficulties — for example, if mobile networks are down or overloaded.
Consider all types of emergencies and how you will keep your employees and customers safe. Your plans should include identifying areas where patrons can take shelter if an event site is compromised and determining how quickly you can get everyone to secure spaces. Make sure you have the appropriate medical assistance and know who to contact if you need reinforcements. It’s also good practice to identify an alternate source of power.
You will want to contact ticket holders to inform them of their options, including refunds and exchanges. Having your customers’ contact details ahead of time can facilitate this effort. Leverage social media and other methods of communication to get the message to as many people as possible and be prepared to set up a hotline to answer additional questions.
Cancelling or postponing an event can be costly. Aside from ticket refund expenses, there will be lost food and beverage and merchandise sales. Artists might also have a payment guarantee in their contract. Event cancellation insurance can help protect your revenues and expenses.
Although you might not have control over whether your event is postponed or cancelled, being prepared to take action can help your reputation and your finances.