COVID-19: Eventrac Update
These are challenging times! Our government is encouraging social distancing in a bid to reduce and slow the spread of coronavirus and their experts are now saying that this may need to be part of our way of life for some weeks (and possibly months) to come. We all know only too well that with sporting and social gatherings prohibited this is having a huge impact on our event industry and for organisers and participants individually. The myriad of advice being given out daily is sensible advice which we must all heed but the uncertainties inevitably leaves anyone who has a business organising races and events in confusion into what help is out there for them and what they should do with events in the calendar due to be held later in the year. We may all be facing the biggest challenge event of our generation but we want you to know that the team here at Eventrac is at that start line with you, will try and keep you moving and will be cheering with you when we all celebrate at the finish line too.
We will be spending some time trying to sift through what has been published to date and outline below some initial practical advice based on the questions we have been receiving from some of you and which we hope will be of some help. Clearly this is a fast moving landscape of advice and you are advised to keep monitoring reliable sources such as the NHS, Gov.UK, BBC and the WHO .
This update is in two sections - Part 1 deals with event organisation generally and Part 2 signs post you to some business advice too (which may or may not be relevant to your business circumstances).
What should I do if I have events listed on Eventrac but am not sure what to do in the light of the government announcements?
Protecting people is critical but we encourage you not to lose sight of protecting your reputation too! With imminent events already cancelled and uncertainty about those later in the year, then the when and how you notify your participants will leave a lasting impression with them. If you want returning business when this crisis passes – and it will pass - it will be extremely important to keep them informed and give them as much customer care as possible from the perspective of early notice, clarity and simply staying in touch with your audience. Please make sure you let the Eventrac team know as soon as possible what events you have already cancelled or postponed and either update your page yourself or ask us to do so. Please also make sure that you mirror this on your own website if you have one. If you want to send out a bulk email to your opt ins we can help you do this but ask again that you give us as much notice as possible, as we are extremely busy trying to help all of our organisers at the moment.
If you want to postpone and have date in mind then you will need to follow all the normal steps for staging the event, but before you go firm on the date you will need to contact your local authority (if you have already got a license – they may agree to transfer it). Don’t raise hopes and then dash them if you do come up with an alternative date make sure it is realistic – keep your participants informed and be clear that due to circumstances beyond your control there are no guarantees and make sure they have your contact details to raise queries.
1. Communicate and stop taking bookings
If you’ve truly exhausted every avenue available to you and you must cancel, then the first thing you have to do is communicate this to your registered attendees/sponsors and stop accepting new ones. Update your eventrac entry page to close bookings, and update your website to reflect the situation and your event cancellation with all the information a participant will need to understand the situation.
You don’t need to provide all of the answers immediately, but you do need to assure athletes registered for your event that you have their best interests at heart. This is also a useful tactic to use when there are last-minute weather events. Telling people that you are working on it is reasonable. Give them a time frame and try to stick with it, if you can give longer notice all the better so your attendees are less likely to have made travel plans or booked hotels, etc. Carefully consider the way you deliver information about event cancellation to reduce the risk of receiving hundreds of emails with the same question. It also helps to create a page of FAQ's that you can link in your emails to direct people towards.
Be sure that everyone has received your message – it is your responsibility to get this critical information to everyone – so you might want to include a quick ‘yes/no’ survey inviting a response to confirm they’ve received and read it. And last but not least, proof your emails by others!
2. Provide a reason
It can be frustrating to hear that something has been cancelled and not be provided with a reason. You can be as detailed or as brief as you feel is right, but providing a concrete reason will help your attendees better understand your decision. It may well help your event be more successful in the future, as you’ll probably get support from your community to help the event go ahead.
3. Update your refunds policy
In light of the situation, this is also a good time to update your event refunds policy, which you can use to point participants to who are demanding a refund to streamline your email communications.
Usually for an event cancellation, you should offer a full refund if you charged for event tickets.. In the case of the coronavirus, this situation is out of your control and therefore offering an alternative may be more widely accepted. For example offering race deferrals for all entrants to the following year can be done by moving all entrants to the new date in a few clicks on your Eventrac platform.
4. Work with suppliers
Remember that your decision to not go ahead with the event will affect others too, such as your suppliers. Contact them as soon as you possibly can to let them know the news. The sooner the better, because you might still be able to negotiate on any money you owe them. If they’ve not actually supplied you with goods or services, you may be able to pay just the deposit.
However you should be aware that they may also have passed on other business opportunities because they were committed to your event, so you should be fair. It’s important to build strong relationships in the industry, so burning bridges and refusing to make good on congrats or agreements is rarely a good long-term strategy.
5. Maintaining Sponsor Support
Event partners such as running clubs, goodie bag sponsors and financial supporters should be prioritised in your updates as a matter of courtesy. It’s your job to make them feel special and appreciated, whilst also liaising with them where necessary around event logistics before deciding on a new date. When the new date is announced to the public, they will feel appreciated and valued for being your first line of contact. From there, make sure you keep communicating with them so you can realign your plans to support them through product promotion, brand recognition and so forth to instill loyalty.
Vetting other options to allow displaced athletes to race in 2020 can include putting on a virtual race - We urge you to explore all avenues. As virtual races increase in popularity we are looking at how eventrac can help you deliver your event online. With no events able to proceed in the immediate future, but independent running still being an option, giving your participants an alternative challenge to complete whilst still rewarding them with race bling can be supported through our results system. Exercise is being encouraged individually or in very small co-habiting family groups and the government are stressing how important it is to stay healthy. This could be a great opportunity to diversify and gain a little experience in the virtual event world. You must observe all the topical recommendations and don’t encourage people to gather but with all the inter-connecting digital technology now its still possible to inject some purpose and challenge into the psyche of your participants to keep them motivated. If you are considering setting a virtual challenge then get in touch with us and we can guide you through the process. The psychology of the nation is adapting to this circumstance and perhaps the driver of getting outside and keeping fit is becoming far more important than getting a medal so think creatively about how you could reward someone in other ways for their achievement ie a discount code for a future mainstream event, a paper certificate that can be easily printed and emailed. We are seeing reports of people doing marathon distances in gardens and even on balconies (although the latter would not be our recommendation given the health and safety implications!) but nothing is impossible for those determined it seems.
Keep in touch with your participants, and maintain the “team/club community spirit” :-
That’s understandable – everyone will be concerned at this difficult – but do try and stay positive. We’re rooting for you and want to help you get through this. We encourage you to stay focussed on the future and to help we will be putting out blogs and articles that may help to reassure. Keep busy. Put this time to good use and tackle all those admin tasks you didn’t previously have time to do, re-engage with lost contacts, address your business planning, think ahead, write your marketing strategies, keep planning ahead and most important of all stay stress-free, fit, well and healthy.
Whilst many Race organisers may not be operating their businesses as limited companies, some of the information* we have gathered below therefore may not be relevant, but we have included it anyway you will know someone else who does run a limited company so may be able to forward on. It is a fast moving situation and the advice is changing daily so do keep yourself up to date before making difficult decisions.
*The information contained in this communication has been taken from third party sources at the time of writing and is shared in good faith for our organisers. However we advise that you substantiate the current advice before taking decisions that may affect your business as we cannot guarantee that the content is accurate or topical going forward.
Helpful advice released by governing bodies amongst running, cycling, triathlons and more:
The team at Eventrac are on hand to assist with all components of your event. From advice on promoting your event through low cost channels such as social media, to a guided tutorial on a specific feature of Eventrac. We are here to help.