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What to Do About Ticket Refunds During COVID-19

The live events industry, event organizers, music venues, promoters, booking agents, and anyone else related to the production of live events is in serious trouble.

You’ve been marketing your event and you already have tickets sold – but now you have to make the decision to cancel the event or postpone it.

If You are Forced to Cancel Your Event.

If you cancel the event, refunds are inevitable. Make sure you communicate with your ticketing provider so that refunds are issued promptly to avoid customers posting negative responses on your social media. I also reccomend that you make sure your ticketing provider sends an email with verbiage that you are ok with. Ideally, you should ask your ticketing provider to email customers regarding the refund with the exact content that you and your marketing team want to communicate to customers.

If You Choose to Postpone Your Event.

If you choose to postpone or reschedule your event, that can potentially allow you to avoid refunds and instead honor any purchased tickets to the new event. It’s important you look at your publicly posted refund policy terms and the refund policy terms of your ticketing provider to ensure this does not violate any agreed upon terms.

What Are Other Ticket Agencies Doing? released a new article that talks about how StubHub is handling the COVID-19 crisis. You can read that article here.

But BEWARE: Shortly after Stub Hub changed this policy a Wisconsin resident filed a class action lawsuit against them, Read About that Here.

This is a great reminder about how important it is that you review your refund policy terms, your ticket provider’s refund policy terms, and that you speak with your attorney about any changes. The refund policy terms your customers agreed to at the time of ticket checkout should be honored so that you don’t end up with a potential lawsuit like Stub Hub just did!

However, now is still a good time to review your refund policy and if you want to make any changes or make your refund policy stricter for any purchases AFTER the refund policy is updated, that is potentially something you can do. Again, always speak with your attorney to ensure you are not opening yourself up to any unnecessary risk.

Incentives for Customers to Turn Down a Refund?

This brings up an interesting idea. If you’re unable to retroactively change your refund policy terms or force customers into a “no refund” situation – could creative incentives allow customers that support your cause to keep their money with you for now?

If you have one huge event each year, and this year’s is canceled, could you offer an incentive for customers to agree to honor that ticket for the next year’s event? That’s a long time for you to hold onto their money… But what if you offered something of value in return? Some ideas include:

  • Free T-Shirt for next year
  • Free Comp Ticket(s) for friends or other family members.
  • Potential raffle for VIP upgrades.
  • Free food voucher or drink voucher for next year.
  • Free Ticket(s), or Ticket discount coupons, for some other event you put on, or that a colleague puts on?
  • Create 1 special day next year ONLY for ticket holders from this year’s event. Early Access, no huge lines, etc. to give them a special experience.
  • Extra tasting tokens for next year.
  • Donate a portion of their ticket if they keep it for next year to an organization your attendees believe in.

The list goes on. You and your team are creative, so put your heads together and figure out what you can offer.

Checklist for Event Organizers Dealing with COVID-19

I wrote a guest blog article for the EventHub blog with more action steps for event organizers to take regarding COVID-19 that you can Read Here.

Corona Virus: Unprecedented Times.

It is an understatement to say these are unprecedented times. Only time will tell how many companies in the live event industry will financially survive COVID-19. But by thinking “outside of the box” and finding alternative strategies versus completely canceling your event and issuing full refunds could be the difference between survival or bankruptcy for many businesses in our industry.

Share Your Ideas Below!

Please leave a comment and share any ideas you and your team have come up with. Knowledge is power, and we want to help every event organizer by thinking of creative solutions together!

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Ryan Kintz
Ryan Kintz is founder and CEO of Afton Tickets, Afton LiveStream, and the Afton Shows MyAfton booking platform. Ryan is an event organizer, event producer, concert promoter, and business owner. Afton Tickets clientele includes fairs, festivals, beer/wine/food festivals, and concerts and events that range from 500 to 100,000+ attendees. Afton LiveStream helps major music artists, promoters, and event organizers with virtual concerts.