Empty Seats Cost Money – 3 Top Reasons for a Strong Cancellation Policy

Empty Beach Chair

Empty Seats Cost Money – 3 Top Reasons for a Strong Cancellation Policy

It is alarming to learn that some organizations do not have a cancellation policy in place for their conference or event. When gathering the details to set up an event, we ask for the cancellation policy. I am still shocked to hear that some clients don’t have one.

Cancellation fees were designed to help you cover cost of the cancellation.  When the time comes to pay the invoices for all the vendors, you don’t want to pay fees associated with attendees that cancel or don’t show up at the last minute.

Here are 3 Top Reasons for a Strong Cancellation Policy

Protect Your Business

Creating your cancellation policy is provides you with the opportunity to look at all the costs per attendee is involved throughout the registration lifecycle.

Some fees to consider are:

  1. Registration fee charged by registration software partner – Chances are that you are charged for the attendee record regardless of whether they attend the meeting or not.
  2. Recover costs from credit card processing. These fees can add up.
  3. Food and beverage guarantees can be modified usually up to three days prior to the event.

Empty Beach ChairAttendee Accountability

Clearly stating the importance of cancelling instead of just not showing up promotes accountability on the part of the attendee. When you publish a cancellation policy you are sending the message that your event and their attendance is important.  If they cancel before the deadline, at least they get some (most) of their money back. If they just don’t show up and ask for their fees to be refunded you have the right to deny the request.


I found that one of the reasons for the lack of policy is that they did not want to come off as too harsh or too rigid. We get this. We really do. However, the opposite is true. Clearly stating the cancellation policy helps your attendees see you as a professional organization.

Here are two sample event cancellation policies:

Cancellation Policy: Cancellations of registration must be received in writing at Organization Name and Email by Date.  All cancellations received by this date will be refunded their fees less a Amount cancellation fee. No refunds will be issued after the cancellation deadline.  Substitutions may be made prior to this date in writing, but after Date substitutions will be handled onsite. Onsite substitutes must bring authorization in writing from the original registrant.  There is no charge for substitutions.

Cancellation Policy:To receive a full refund, a request must be received on or before 5 p.m. EST, October 10, 2019, and sent by email to Email Address.   A cancellation fee of $75 will be deducted from your refund for cancellations made after 5 p.m. EST on October 10, 2020 through November 3, 2020. NO REFUNDS WILL BE GIVEN for cancellations received after October 10, 2020, or later. Registration fees may be transferred but may only be transferred once. (The fee may be transferred to another registrant to attend the 2020 conference or the fee may be applied to the cost of the registration fee to attend the 2021 conference.  In no case may a registration fee be transferred beyond one year.)

Look for a system with a flexible cancellation feature that can accommodate different fees or percentages and dates the policy is valid.

Let us know if we can help. info@yesevents.com

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