How to Politely Cancel an Event

No event organiser wants to cancel an event they’ve poured their heart and soul into planning. But when life throws a curveball, you're left with no choice but to cancel. While this may not be ideal for you and especially for your attendees, a well-executed event cancellation can help retain your brand’s credibility. We'll show you how to gracefully cancel an event while keeping your attendees in the loop, and provide an email template you can use to cancel an event like a seasoned pro!

Reasons behind event cancellations

There are many reasons you might need to cancel an event you've been working hard to put together. After all, life doesn't always play by your rules and can sometimes mess up your plans. While you can choose to reschedule an event, this is not always possible. Let’s jump into a few reasons why an event may need to be cancelled and how to avoid them. 

Unforeseen circumstances 

One of the most common reasons for needing to cancel an event is in the case of extreme weather. Whether you're indoors or out, it's best to be prepared. Got an outdoor event? Think about securing a nearby indoor space just in case. And it's always a good idea to have some umbrellas, ponchos, or fans handy for those unexpected weather twists. Communication is key! Set up a quick alert system, like SMS or email notifications, and use your event's social media to keep attendees updated. This way, come rain or shine, you've got everything covered and everyone informed!

Low turnout

When you plan an event, you calculate how many tickets you have to sell to cover the expenses. If the event date is approaching and you haven’t sold enough tickets to cover the costs and turn a profit, it may be time to cancel or postpone your event. It’s a tough decision to make, but it’s preferable to creating a subpar experience for your attendees or not delivering on what was promised due to budget constraints. Want to avoid lower-than-expected ticket sales? Be sure to promote your event! Reach out to your audience on multiple platforms, create excitement around the event, and offer early bird deals to boost attendance. 

Vendor or partner issues

As an event organiser, you understand that many moving parts are involved in creating an unforgettable experience for attendees. Third parties like vendors and partners are crucial to your events, but sometimes they can cause complications. A key vendor or partner could back out at the last minute, jeopardising the event. You can overcome some complications but not all, which could mean cancelling the event. To avoid this, carefully vet your partners and have a plan B ready. Also, communication is key, so stay in touch to nip potential issues in the bud.

How to cancel an event politely

You've come to the right place if you're wondering, "How on earth do I cancel this event without bad press?"

1. Stop selling tickets

If you’ve reached the point of no return and need to cancel the event, stop selling tickets pronto. After all, you want to keep your attendees happy. Stay ahead of changes to avoid the refund fuss later on.

2. Communicate with your attendees

After you’ve made the tough decision to cancel your event, you have to communicate with your ticket buyers. While giving at least 24 hours' notice is advisable, the earlier you communicate the cancelled event, the better. Consider attendees travelling from long distances who may want to come in a day or two early. An early cancellation notice may save them from spending money on hotels and transportation. Send out an event cancellation email as soon as you can, and if possible, give them a call. If you registered your event with Ticketleap, you can use our platform to email your attendees. We created an email template you can use below! Remember that some people don’t always check their inboxes, and others might go to spam, so take all routes when making your event cancellation announcement. Your event website, social media channels, and promotional materials are all good channels to make the announcement.

3. Handle refunds with a personal touch

If you've sold tickets, it's key to process refunds swiftly. For multi-date events where only one day is cancelled, consider partial refunds or offer ticket swaps to another day. Going digital? Offer a reduced fee for online access, but keep a full refund as an option. When reaching out to attendees, clearly explain the refund details and timelines. And if you're rescheduling, make ticket changes super simple. To do this use, use a reliable ticketing platform that allows easy rescheduling or swaps. Send direct links to attendees for hassle-free changes, and always have a helpdesk or chatbot ready to assist with any queries. The smoother the process, the happier your attendees will be!

4. Reflect 

Regardless of your reasons for cancelling your event, you should take time to assess what went wrong and how to fix it before the next event. While you may not be able to control weather changes, you could take preemptive measures with your partners if that was the reason behind the cancelled event. Also, collect feedback on how attendees felt about how the cancellation was handled.

Event Cancellation Email Template

When composing a cancellation email, being clear and empathetic can help soften your attendees' disappointment. Cover key points such as why the event is being cancelled, when and how attendees can get a refund, and who they can call for further questions. 

Here's a quick template for your rescue:

Subject: Oh No! [Event Name] is Taking a Rain Check


Hey [Event-Goer],

First off, big virtual high-fives for being part of the [Event Name] excitement! But here's the deal: Due to [Cancellation Reason], we've got to hit the brakes on the event. Trust us, it's not an easy call, and we're deeply sorry for any hassle.

We're bummed, too, because we were all set for [Event Highlights]. But chin up, we're not giving up! However, we will issue a refund to all ticket buyers via their original payment method. If you don’t receive payment by [Date], please contact us at [Contact Info], and we’ll look into it. 

Huge thanks for being patient during this curveball. Got questions or just want to chat? Reach out anytime at [Contact Info] and [Social Media Platform/Handle].


[Your Name] 

[Your Contact Info]

Cancel the event like a pro!

Event cancellations might seem like plot twists in your event saga, but they're just chapters. Use this guide to help you cancel events politely. Life isn't all smooth sailing, but how you handle the storm is what sets you apart. Embrace the chaos, communicate like a champ, and keep throwing those legendary events that keep everyone coming back for more.