We regret to inform you that the retreat you have been planning for months will not be happening. What a bummer! As a planner, this can be one of the scariest and most disappointing things to happen. You have worked so hard, and now the whole thing has fallen apart. Take a deep breath. We are here to help you handle it.
First off, there are multiple reasons this could have happened.
- The venue could have made a mistake, either with the dates or by overbooking their facilities.
- You, as the planner, could have booked the wrong dates. There was a lot of planning going on, and maybe you looked at the wrong month or had a typo.
- Guests cancelled at the last minute or you didn’t get enough people to sign up.
- You can’t go all of a sudden and no one else is willing to take your place.
- Inclement weather conditions.
Now, let’s look at how to handle the situation.
- Let everyone know, ASAP (including the venue). Whether it is cancelled, moved to a different location, or rescheduled, make sure to let all guests know the minute that you know. This is where having a contact list comes in handy.
- If the venue is who caused the cancellation, ask if they have any alternative suggestions and, most importantly, for your deposit back. Most places will refund you the full amount without a problem, and they may even offer you a discount for a future event.
- If you were the one who messed up, the first thing to do is ask for forgiveness. While guests will still be upset, there is no better way than to admit guilt.
- Look for another venue. Even if you have to schedule it at your church, try not to cancel it altogether. You may even get lucky and find another venue that has your dates available.
- Sometimes events don’t draw as many guests as we expect. And unfortunately, some venues have minimum guest requirements. To prevent this from happening, ask around about dates before picking one, have a clean, simple registration process, and make sure to promote. Try to have a solid number of guests in mind when booking the venue.
- You’ve come down with a nasty case of the flu and there’s no way you can lead the retreat anymore. Hopefully, there is someone that is either a church leader or already going that would be willing to grab the reins for you. This is a perfect time to point out the importance of having a planning team. While no one would ever think about missing the event they planned, things happen, and we must have a backup ready. The great thing about having other team members as a part of the planning process is that they should already know all the details, so you don’t hand it over to someone who is completely clueless.
- We have seen our fair share of retreats get cancelled due to inclement weather. As sad as it is to cancel, most people will understand that you have no say in what happens in the weather. In the end, they will probably be grateful that you didn’t try to haul them off on icy roads to an unfamiliar destination. If you are unsure about cancelling because you aren’t in the area of the venue, make sure to call and get their take on the road conditions.
No one ever wants to hear the words “retreat” and “cancelled”, but sometimes there isn’t anything you can do about it. My only suggestion is to stay calm and pray that you don’t have to cancel.