Thinking Quick to Save a Disaster Event

This past weekend we had a large EDM (electronic music) DJ duo booked for one of my larger venues. 1000 person capacity and tickets have been selling (well) since the beginning of the month. I was in Las Vegas all week at a nightclub convention and had my hands on the sales and promotion while down there, but everything was selling and pushing well since our ticket sales launch so we had no worries.

The concert was scheduled for Friday night and I was returning Thursday afternoon, plenty of time to do final details and produce the show, so I thought. Here is where the bomb dropped! Late Thursday evening (almost Friday morning) we get emails from the Agency that the group will not be able to make the show and they needed to cancel. Not getting into the actual details, the schedule was tight as is (with other commitments) and we were going to be postponed.

With my nightclub convention all week, super late nights and super early mornings, I was jet lagged! There was going to be zero time to rest as I needed to fix the mess very quickly in order to save the brands of our venue, promoter, concert series and have a salvageable Friday night. I take the rest of Thursday evening (into Friday morning) to come up with a plan before announcing anything.

Friday AM: early Friday morning (concert day) no one is aware of the postponement. With my jet lagged brain working overtime I came up with a plan, we needed to announce the show cancellation but why just refund tickets and close up shop for the night, maybe I can salvage the evening and still bring tickets buyers in to the venue and create revenue for the client. So before the cancellation announcement I needed to develop a replacement event to go out.

Before I announced anything I went to my DJ contacts that had a similar electronic music sound. One of my good friends (that has played in LA but lives close by) was available. What a favor (thanks Leo!). I had a headliner. The opening DJs would still love the opportunity to play the big club so I knew that they would be on board. My talent was lined up. The event was coming together.

Friday lunch time: Marketing materials. Before lunch time I had my headliner and openers in tact but needed new marketing materials to use on social media and our website. Designs and an event name had to be created. Since we knew all of our ticket holders were fans of electronic music we created an event that still spoke to that crowd. During my design time I started to confidentially talk with our promoters and ticket sellers. I needed to get them in the know on what is happening and how we were going to handle the refunds as well as re-launch the Friday evening show. I wanted to save the night.

Working on my Macbook Pro, messaging via the iPad and texting from the phone my home office was buzzing with ideas, questions, answers, and saving. However, things were starting to come together.

Every ticket seller knew to hold off on announcing anything until all of our ducks were in line but the plan was to announce the cancellation as well as announce that the night was still going on strong with a fantastic new headliner. The plan was to refund every ticket seller at the venue so that they still came in to the club (why offer a refund the next week, may as well get them into the club). We were not going to charge tickets or cover charge for the night’s event since the big act was not able to come and it was our way to save and give back to the supporters that purchased tickets. Free show!

Friday 1PM, lunch finished, new headliner booked, marketing materials ready, sellers and promoters informed, we are ready to pull the trigger. I send out the message that we have cancelled the event (updated our Facebook event and website details) and informed of the new event details. Every promoter and ticket sellers does the same. Time to take a breath and let the storm start.

Once the news gets out, a few of the local clubs love the fact that we hit a road bump and take to social media to start to burn us. They get excited that this is their chance to finally ‘beat us’ and try to claw all of our ticket holders to their clubs. I have a great ‘taking the high road’ blog coming up next but essentially I keep all promoters and staff at bay and tell them to concentrate on being the professional group. Keep promoting the new event and the great night ahead and not worry about the childish posts that they were spreading. Take the high road. Our brand and event production speaks for themselves so we ignore responding to their posts and keep pushing.

I hoped for the best and crossed my fingers. I informed the ownership that we should still expect to have zero people in that night and a huge disaster ahead of us. So how did the night turn out?

Every single ticket holder came in to speak to me directly and get their refund. I smiled and thanked them. I apologized for the inconvenience (whether it was out of our control or not, it’s not fun to buy a ticket and not get your show) but everyone was appreciative of the quick refund, the free show, and the experience to continue to party at an event that played the music they love. They were super happy! We packed the night in, created fantastic liquor revenue in the midst of a disaster and had extremely positive social media buzz during and after the event.

Huge save.

(and yes I eventually got some sleep 😉


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