So how could all the backlash be handled (or at least kept to a minimum) when a festival can no longer go ahead?
Insurance policies, cancellation cover, all the important (boring) stuff
Imagine the huge debts that you could be left with –live acts, marshals, caterers, contractors etc. Well, although cancelling a festival may not be your desired course, in the unavoidable scenario such as dangerous weather, this can be the difference between bankrupting yourself and keeping the financial damage to a minimum.
Give as much warning as possible
To the attendees, to the contractors, to the staff, to everyone! If you keep them in the loop regarding things such as weather concerns, then it will come as less of a shock to them if your do have to cancel. With that said, you also don’t want to cause too much anxiety if the threat is minimal, but do address concerns directly as a host talking to a ticket holder.
Do not suddenly drop a bombshell
As mentioned above – suddenly cancelling out of the blue is a total shock to anyone involved! It can harm your reputation and it may be the difference between people returning the following year. It’d be best practice (in a far from perfect situation) to let everyone know that you’re doing everything you can to get the green light on the event.
Refunds, refunds, refunds
Provide refunds at the first possible opportunity – don’t hold on to anyone’s money for longer than you need to. Remember, your festival might be cancelled this year, but don’t give anyone any further reasons to not want to attend in the following years.
As well as telling all ticket purchasers, tell local accommodation
It’s one thing for the ticket holder to find out that the festival you’re attending is cancelled, it’s another if it’s too late for them to receive their money back on their accommodation that they’ll no longer be needing.
If your cancellation is anything like the infamous Fyre Festival (goodness forbid), it’d also be good to work with local hotels, hostels etc. to accommodate for people who are stranded/not able to get home if they’ve already arrived.