Support during a canceled event - stories from the travel front line

March 18, 2020 Amanda Greenwood

When employees are invited on a trip of a lifetime to celebrate their achievements, it’s natural that many would extend their time in the destination with their loved ones.  This was the case when a Travel and Transport client decided to cancel an incentive trip to Cape Town amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

Some of the 70 people due to attend were already in South Africa enjoying vacation time, and while not all their arrangements were booked with Travel and Transport, our meetings and events team supported anyone that needed help. The client canceled the event at the end of February, when there was only one case in Cape Town and many people were still traveling and meeting at events around the world.  

“We helped with return flights and did what we could; we would never turn anyone away that needed our support. Naturally there were lots of questions from all those attending, and people wanted to know what was happening,” says Rebecca McGarrity, Senior Event Planner.  

As well as supporting travelers, the team worked out what can be recuperated with flights and negotiated with suppliers to postpone or pause the ground program – anything from group activities and hotel arrangements to halting documents being printed and awards being delivered.  

“Everyone pitched in on how to proceed with cancelling the event and what needed to get done. It was really impressive how everyone pulled together and looked at who else could help; it’s felt very supportive,” says Rebecca.  

The customer still wants to hold the trip in the future, so the team continues to negotiate terms with suppliers, many who will hold bookings for a year.  

Rebecca has worked in the meetings and events industry for more than a decade and has never seen so many events cancelled or postponed in a short period. “Cancelling is a dramatic move and we’ve never seen it on this scale. In events you have to adapt and deal with change all the time; that proactive helpfulness is just what we do.”  

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