When you exhibit at trade shows, you never know exactly how many people will turn up, how many leads you’ll get, or what your ROI will be. Thorough planning and comprehensive research help you make the most of your exhibit, but it can’t cover every eventuality. For those things you can’t control, trade show cancellation insurance and your own actions may be able to mitigate the risks.
How Does Event Cancellation Insurance Protect Your Exhibit?
Event cancellation is normally a rare occurrence, but as 2020 has shown, there’s always the possibility of unexpected circumstances that lay waste to carefully laid plans. Event cancellation insurance provides coverage when unforeseen circumstances prevent an event from taking place. Some kinds of cancellation insurance also cover you if circumstances prevent you from exhibiting at an event as planned, even when the event itself still goes ahead.
The kinds of circumstances that apply vary depending on the event involved and the particulars of the policy. Some examples include:
- Natural disasters and extreme weather events, like earthquake or flood
- Terrorist activities or civil unrest
- Labor disputes or strikes that affect the venue, like a dispute that prevents exhibit assets from being delivered to the venue
- Damage to the venue or failure of an essential venue service, such as electricity.
- For an exhibitor, a situation in which key exhibit assets are lost in transit
Event cancellation insurance covers the costs of nonrefundable and irrecoverable expenses if the event is cancelled for any reason named in the policy. For instance, it may reimburse expenses such as registration fees, travel and accommodation costs, and transportation and drayage costs.
Some policies may offer additional options for a higher premium cost. For instance, one option is to buy a policy that covers expenses you incur (up to a certain dollar limit) to avoid an event cancellation. If an essential exhibit item is lost or broken, for example, and you buy a replacement to avoid cancelling, the insurance may cover the cost, up to the limit named in the policy.
Event cancellation policies may also cover profit and/or revenue lost due to cancellation, as an optional extra. However, this is aimed more at event organizers and may not be available to exhibitors.
An event cancellation policy can cover a single event or a period of time of up to a full year. The amount you’ll pay depends on the length of coverage and on what kinds of cancellation incidents are included.
Note: While many policies do cover event cancellation due to the spread of communicable diseases, the coronavirus is currently excluded. This means it’s not currently possible to buy a new cancellation policy that covers events cancelled due to the coronavirus.
Trade Show Cancelled? 3 Other Ways to Protect Your Tradeshow Investment
If an event you planned to attend is cancelled, you’ll definitely be glad to have purchased trade show cancellation insurance. But having insurance isn’t the only way to protect your investment. By reacting quickly and decisively to news of a cancellation, you may be able to turn a potential disaster into something more positive.
1. Act Quickly to Minimize Damage
There are plenty of reasons to stay on top of planning and organization, but the possibility of event cancellation isn’t exactly at the top of the list. However, if an event gets cancelled, it’s easier to deal with the aftermath if you’ve been actively involved all along. This is an important point because you’ll need to act quickly once the news of an event cancellation is out.
As soon as you hear about a trade show cancellation, you’ll likely have several things to get done ASAP. For instance:
- Cancel print orders.
- Cancel orders for swag merchandise.
- Cancel shipping and drayage services.
- Cancel orders for show services.
- Cancel travel and accommodation arrangements if you were traveling to another city for the event.
All these things need to get done ASAP, so you can avoid paying cancellation fees and getting saddled with items you no longer have a use for.
2. Pivot and Then Keep the Momentum Going
In the lead-up to a big trade show event, many exhibitors plan marketing campaigns online, on social media, and via direct contact. If that event is suddenly cancelled, what do you do next?
You may not have a venue or an exhibit, but you still have all the momentum you’ve been building in the lead-up to the event. So you still have options for getting your message out to your audience. It just means you need to find a way to pivot away from the cancelled trade show while making the most of the marketing work you’ve already done.
One simple but effective way is to connect with your audience on social media. Talk about the event, why it’s cancelled, what you were looking forward to, and what you’re doing instead. Make it funny, if that’s appropriate to your brand voice. People will enjoy a little joking and laughing after the disappointment of the event cancellation. Spend some time interacting with your audience, then follow it up with a link to great content from your website.
Another option might be to send an email blast to subscribers who were also attending the event. With reference to the cancellation, link to some of your best web content, and perhaps offer a discount coupon, free shipping, or another small perk as a “consolation prize.”
Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to get onto it quickly, to keep your marketing momentum going. Even though the event is cancelled, you still have an opportunity to at least partially meet your trade show goals.
3. Find Alternative Ways to Meet Your Objectives
Most exhibitors have specific plans for the events they attend. Whether it’s a product or brand launch, a round of meetings with your biggest clients, or a concerted effort to gather new leads, a trade show cancellation puts an end to your plans.
Or does it?
You may not be able to attend the event, but you still have options. Those clients you were hoping to meet with are only a Zoom call away, after all.
Perhaps you can’t launch your new product at a big trade event, but you could film a video clip and promote it on social media. Another option could be to convert your product presentation into a podcast or a webinar. Perhaps you could even hold a virtual event with a live product launch followed by a Q&A session, or build a virtual exhibit.
Most importantly, don’t let an event cancellation stop you in your tracks. No matter what your event goals were, there’s sure to be a few ways you can keep moving forward if that event is cancelled.
Think Smart and Plan Ahead to Protect Your Trade Show Investment
Cancellation is the last word you want to hear when you’re gearing up for your next big trade show. Trade show cancellation insurance is an excellent option for protecting your financial investment. And if you’re prepared to take swift action in the event of a cancellation, you may still have a chance to meet your event goals.