John Lennon reminds us that “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans,” and this adage holds true even for vendor events that you have already paid for. Whatever the reason you have for not being able to attend as a vendor, there is a decorum and grace involved in canceling. There are two major goals to keep mind before you cancel: a) To not offend the event organizer, b) To get invited back.
- Check to see if your contract has a cancellation policy. Some contracts may clearly state if there is a statute of limitation on cancellation, such as the latest you can cancel and still request a refund. Try to gather as much information from your signed contract before moving on to the next steps.
- Let the organizer know as soon as possible. The sooner you can cancel your space, the better it is for the organizer. Try to notify the organizer in writing, either by an email or text message, if the event is still a few days away. If you’re canceling last-minute, you should call.
- The further away you cancel, the fewer details you need. If you cancel at least two weeks before an event, you can simply explain that you need to cancel. If you’re canceling at the very last minute, you should be explaining what the emergency is.
- When canceling, offer to help rectify your cancellation. If possible, offer to seek out a replacement. If you cannot offer to seek a replacement, don’t make another promise you will not be able to fulfill.
- It is best to ask for your refund (if you can) during the immediate cancellation phase. When you write your offer to rectify, politely ask if you can receive a refund if you find your own replacement. If you are unable to offer to find a replacement, ask what the protocols are to request a refund. Prepare to be rejected, even if it does not explicitly state so in your contract.
- Events cost a lot of money to run – from booking the venue, to marketing, to advertising, decorating, etc. – so it may not be possible to get a refund, especially if it’s very close to the event date. Accept “no” with grace.
- Apologize. You are canceling, so it is technically breaking a promise; a simple “I’m sorry” goes a long way.
- Close with thanks and an opportunity to work together again. In the conclusion of your cancellation, you should thank the organizer for the opportunity and explain that you wish to still be notified of his/her next event.
We can’t always be everywhere we plan to be, and sometimes we simply don’t have control over the circumstances; however, we always have the ability to be professional and graceful. Be tactful, polite, courteous, and offer the same respect you would hope for in return.