Today and tomorrow (and maybe for a few days after that), a large swath of the country is going to be dealing with a monstrous snowstorm. Even Dallas, Texas is under a freeze warning! For many of us, winter is just another part of the year. There is always a possibility that the weather will cancel your plans. This presents some inconvenience when you’re calling off a committee meeting, a class or a networking event. But what if it’s something with a significant investment involved – whether on your part or that of your guests?

For most people, calling off an event isn’t going to cause too much pain. There will be some rescheduling, you may face a loss of a vendor deposit, etc. But before any of this happens, you should still have a plan in place if you need to make the call.

-First and foremost, determine the definite reasons for calling off the event. Natural disasters are an obvious one, but it may get a little fuzzy after that. When does it go beyond what your contigency plan can handle? How icy do the roads have to be before you cancel? If a thunderstorm is predicted during an outdoor event; do you call it off completely or just have everyone take cover if lightning presents? If your keynote speaker falls ill but all other presenters can make it, do you proceed? These things need to be considered. You can’t account for every possibility but making some of these decisions will guide you for whatever may come up.

– The next thing you need to know is how you will communicate a cancellation to your attendees. Will it be personal calls, emails? Call the local TV and radio stations so they can include it in announcements if necessary. It never hurts to make your cancellation policies public knowledge either. Sidenote: This is also another reason why I am a huge advocate for creating registration systems or asking guests to RSVP. It’s so much easier to target your audience if you know who is coming and you have their contact information!

-Don’t forget your vendors! Always check cancellation policies on contracts and be aware of the costs you may incur with a late cancellation. If you are considering calling things off, let your vendors know so if they are able, they can hold off on preparations and deliveries.

However, if you are holding an event like a wedding or reunion that requires a lot of vendor deposits and expense, you may want to consider event cancellation insurance. Yes, it exists. (For some more in-depth information on event cancellation insurance, see here.)

If you’re holding an event that is supposed to generate income – like fundraisers, festivals, conventions, concerts, tournaments – you should definitely have event cancellation insurance. Of course, these things are generally major undertaking so I’m likely preaching to the pros on this one.

via Washington Post

The main thing to remember is that an important part of planning is planning on your event not happening. Even if you’re planning a baby shower for 20 – consider a cancellation plan. It will be much easier to tell the mommy-to-be (or other guest of honor) that the party is off if she knows in advance, the conditions for canceling.

It is not the most fun part of planning but it will serve you better than blind hope and keeping your fingers crossed!