What Event Professionals Need to Know About the Coronavirus


As the world is monitoring the coronavirus outbreak, also known as COVID-19, industries from entertainment to tech to hospitality are dealing with disruption as events, travel, and even working face to face are being canceled.

Dozens of tech, medical, entertainment, food and beverage, consumer products, and science conferences have announced cancelations, postponements, or plans to move to an online-only event. 

Union Square Hospitality Group says its properties are facing the same issues as their peers: Rescheduling reservations and events, making sure their restaurants follow strict cleaning protocols, and broadening their sick leave policy for all employees. Their customers’ needs are always first priority, according to Whitney Sanchez, Director of Operational Excellence.

“We always want to lead with generosity. As we enter into uncharted territory with COVID-19, we want to make sure we are taking care of the concerns of our guests and our teams,” she said.

Here’s what event professionals should do to make sure they are prepared in case their restaurant, hotel, or venue is impacted by cancelations due to health concerns from the coronavirus:

Review government guidelines

The United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has created a resource called Interim Guidance: Get Your Mass Gatherings or Large Community Events Ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). View this page to get details on what to do to prepare for an outbreak before it happens, how to cope with an outbreak, and what to do after the outbreak has passed.

Revisit your cancellation policies

If you are using Tripleseat, you have most likely set up documents in your dashboard that outline cancelation policies for your venue that are part of your contracts with clients. Review those policies and save copies of that policy on your laptop and phone to have on hand in case clients who have booked upcoming events contact you about a cancellation. 

Find a better “no”

Health epidemics are unpredictable and there’s no telling when the coronavirus will be yesterday’s news. So instead of canceling a client’s event right away and losing revenue, work with them on alternatives. You could reschedule for a future date, negotiate for other options like catering at their home or office instead of holding the event at your venue, or give them a discount or upgrade if they rebook with you at a later date.

Be informed

Follow your local news and reputable news sources to keep on top of Coronavirus cases in your area. And check sources such as the CDC for up-to-date numbers. If you have a good relationship with other event professionals in your area, check in with them to find out what they’re hearing in regard to the outbreak.

Communicate and be transparent

If there are signs that the coronavirus may be impacting your business, review the CDC guidelines and your venue’s workplace policies with your staff. Talk to clients who have booked events coming up in the immediate weeks or months about what’s happening in your community. And be up front with new clients who may want to book and tell them about possible cancelations within this time period.

Apply caution but don’t panic

Gloria Guevara, President & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said that minimizing panic is just as important as controlling the spread of the coronavirus.

“The most effective management of a crisis requires rapid activation of effective emergency plans, and we can see that in the early days of this outbreak, the Chinese government has acted rapidly,” Guevara said in a statement from the WTTC. “However, quick, accurate and transparent communication is also crucial in order to contain panic and mitigate negative economic losses. Containing the spread of unnecessary panic is as important as stopping the virus itself.”