These past months and years have been tough for endurance events. Really tough. Who knew that brutal weather would hammer down on the east coast and southwest, forcing event after event to cancel on race day? As so many race directors have recently found, the days and weeks following a cancellation are not easy—often leaving the financial security and posterity of the event in jeopardy.
Did you see this article in Runner’s World detailing a bevy of events that had to cancel all in the same weekend? Think of how many thousands of dollars in refunds all those participants were hoping (aka demanding) to receive. It’s a big number.
A really big number.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOU?
If I were a betting person - and, as it turns out, I am - I’d bet my lucky socks that the storms will continue to beat up the east coast, central and midwest while El Niño makes an encore performance over the southwest. The strong winds, lightning and immense downpours characteristic of these storms means that a heartbreakingly high number of event cancellations are likely to come along with them.
Most people who haven't gone through an event cancellation don't truly understand the cost of it: both financial and emotional.
You've got sponsors who have paid to be at your race and, gosh darnit, they don't want to pay for something they never got. You've got city personnel and vendors who are all expecting to get paid for their time and supplies. Lord knows they don't want to leave empty handed.
And this doesn't even take into account all of the participants who are angry at you. Sure, you didn't cause the weather but that doesn't matter to them. It's still your responsibility and if you don't have a refund in their bank account immediately, you best be ready for some serious customer support work.
But it's not like you've had the money you made sitting in a bank account. I mean, you had to pay for shirts and bibs and vendors and marketing and so many other things. How the heck are you going to pay participants and sponsors back without going into some pretty serious debt?
It seems you've got a few choices on how to avoid this:
Cross your fingers and hope for the best
Stockpile tons of cash
The first two are pretty self explanatory, but the last is possibly one of the best ways to protect yourself from the financial downside of a cancelled event. You may have even looked at cancellation insurance before and thought, holy moly this sure is expensive. I mean, what event organizer wants to spend yet another $10k - 30k if they don't have to.
You aren’t alone. That’s why Event Cancellation Coverage at no extra cost to you is becoming more and more popular.
You can learn more about how it works here.
Whether you’ve got cancellation coverage, a big wad of cash under the mattress or just a heaping serving of faith, you better have a plan of attack in case you do have to cancel your event.
What’s your refund strategy? What will you tell participants? How will you communicate with them? Of course, we have some suggestions to help you if you do ever find yourself in this situation.
Whether you want to call it El Niño, global warming or meteorological insanity, the risk of weather-related event cancellations is very real. Are you prepared?