Second in a series of COVID-19 blog posts by Lonnie Somers.
There are several things that you should be doing to protect your event, those affiliated with it, and its brand.
Do not sit idle: consider putting in place these measures to protect your event:
Communicate – With uncertainty comes uneasiness. It is very hard, despite all the less than positive news everyday, we gravitate to know what is going on. Your participants and stakeholders (sponsors, suppliers, expo vendors, staff, and volunteers) need to be communicated to. Do not go silent! Most importantly, be transparent, be honest, and certainly be compassionate in all your communications about your event from refund/deferment policies, what steps you are taking to keep your event safe and limit potential exposure, to updates about if your event will take place. The more you communicate with your potential and current participants and stakeholders, the more support you will have from them. As mentioned, be sure you are compassionate. I have seen some terrible communications from events who have had to cancel or have gotten questions about possible cancelations and have in return disenfranchised their participants and even been less than kind to them in public communications.
Don’t take negative responses personally, even though there will always be that “one” person who won’t agree with what you are doing, how you are handling things, etc. Respond kindly and move on. Don’t engage them in a battle. Everyone else sees that they are being a bully or less than understanding.
Communicate on your website, social media sites, and your registration pages. Even consider doing video via YouTube, Facebook Live, or another platform. Let them hear personally from you or someone that can represent your event well.
Share your story – Generally we are always encouraging you to share about the fun attributes and uniqueness of your event in order to standout. Everyone has a good cause, so it can be hard to promote only that part of your event. However, now under these circumstances, with so many focused on COVID-19, it is easy to forget that your event has a reason in either raising funds for you charity, or supporting a charity or community. Tell that story and remind everyone the importance of the event and what is it providing. It is very easy right now for the general public, without blame, to be focused on the current pandemic and economic situation. However, COVID-19 didn’t stop people from getting cancer, having heart attacks, or needing mental health resources. It is important to remind your potential and current participants and stakeholders the reason for your event.
Add a virtual option – Generally a virtual option is there to capture those that might want to support your event but cannot be there on event day. Regardless if you have this or not currently and no matter when your event is this year, put in a virtual option that allows participants to sign up and support your cause, or transfer to the virtual option at anytime leading up to the event for any reason. We will have more detail about virtual options bit later.
Set policies and be clear in your communication – With things being so uncertain, it is important to be sure you have clear and visible polices on how you are handling matters such as:
Refunds (either due to someone being uncomfortable or cancellation) – most events do not offer refunds. If you are able to, great, but many cannot. It is important to be clear about that upfront. With much of the expense of an event being paid out before the event can happen, it is usually not feasible to refund registrations since it would put the event/organization in financial harm.
Deferments – will you allow deferments or transfers if you have to cancel or postpone.
If you cancel and move to a virtual event, be clear if you will offer any additional options, such as maybe just donating their registration to your cause/charity.
Update your registration and participation waiver – With many events that do not offer refunds, under the current pandemic, it is a good time to update your waiver to cover all situations. This protects you and your processing registration platform from unnecessary disputes and charge backs. Below is a very good example of one you can use, or modify your own to be sure you include key areas.
In consideration of you accepting this entry, I, the participant, intending to be legally bound do hereby waive and forever release any and all right and claims for damages or injuries that I may have against the Event Director, (event name), (event organization), HAL Sports, (city and county of event), and all of their agents assisting with the event, sponsors and their representatives, volunteers and employees for any and all injuries to me or my personal property. This release includes all injuries and/or damages suffered by me before, during or after the event. I recognize, intend and understand that this release is binding on my heirs, executors, administrators, or assignees.
I know that running/walking in this event is a potentially hazardous activity. I should not enter and participate unless I am medically able to do so and properly trained. I assume all risks associated with participating in this event including, but not limited to: falls, contact with other participants, the effects of weather, traffic, and course conditions, and waive any and all claims which I might have based on any of those and other risks typically found in participating in this event. I acknowledge all such risks are known and understood by me. I agree to abide by all decisions of any event official relative to my ability to safely complete the run. I certify as a material condition to my being permitted to enter this event that I am physically fit and sufficiently trained for the completion of this event and that a licensed Medical Doctor has verified my physical condition.
In the event of an illness, injury or medical emergency arising during the event I hereby authorize and give my consent to the Event Director and/or Medical Director to secure from any accredited hospital, clinic and/ or physician any treatment deemed necessary for my immediate care. I agree that I will be fully responsible for payment of any and all medical services and treatment rendered to me including but not limited to medical transport, medications, treatment and hospitalization.
By submitting this entry, I acknowledge (or a parent or adult guardian for all children under 18 years) having read and agreed to the above release and waiver.
Further, I grant permission to all the foregoing to use my name, voice and images of myself in any photographs, motion pictures, results, publications or any other print, videographic or electronic recording of this event for legitimate purposes. I also give my permission to receive communications from the event, its sponsors, supporters, and vendors via electronic or print means.
This event follows the standard event industry policy: All entry fees are non-refundable. We reserve the right to postpone or cancel the event due to circumstances beyond our control such as a natural disaster or emergency or as required to protect the safety of participants and staff. No refunds will be issued under these circumstances. We reserve the right to change the details of the event without prior notice. I understand that my entry fee is nonrefundable under any circumstances. I understand that my entry and bib numbers are nontransferable without permission.
More posts in this series:
COVID-19 and Events Series Post #1: Current and Likely State for 2020
COVID-19 Event Series #2: What should you be doing to protect your event
COVID-19 Events Series #3: What to consider in cancelling (or postponing) your event
COVID-19 Event Series #4: Considerations for moving to a Virtual Event
HOW HAL SPORTS CAN HELP
We have always been and always will be there for you to support you, your events, and your causes in any way we can. We always have your back and work hard to do all the research, find best practices, and help you navigate all the challenges you may face. We are here to make everything as easy for you as possible and be the experts for you, especially in crisis situations.
We are here to help, and here are some of the offerings we are providing to you under this pandemic at no cost or minimal cost.
Virtual Run Management – we can manage fully your virtual event in all aspects
Virtual Run Fulfillment – we will fulfill all your event packets, mailing, and distribution to participants
Consulting – we can provide additional consulting to your organization on any of the areas we have covered in this guide.
Video Messaging – Lonnie, who announces many events professionally, can record video messaging that can go out to your participants with updates and news about your event.
Virtual Event Announcing/Hosting – Lonnie is available to virtual host/emcee your event with live video, recorded sound, etc.
Need something else? Just drop us a line!!!
Photo by Lindsay Henwood on Unsplash