Canalys Events blog: What is it like being part of an events team when your event gets cancelled?

Gemma Edwards | Friday, March 27 2020

The cancellation of MWC caused turmoil in the tech industry – a nightmare situation for companies, with many losing a lot of time, money and resources. As more events are cancelled, this is a situation that will dominate many events teams’ realities in 2020. But aside from the losses incurred, what is it actually like to be part of an events team when your event gets cancelled?

With the cancellation of MWC came the cancellation of Canalys’ Enlighten event – an evening cocktail reception and an opportunity for Canalys analysts to share insights and predictions. While Enlighten is a much smaller event than our flagship Canalys Forums, having any event cancelled is incredibly demoralizing. The life of an event begins many months in advance of the event date. Cancellation makes it feel as if the time spent on planning, the cost committed to suppliers, the messaging sent to clients, the negotiation with venues (the list goes on) is all wasted. As all events teams know, the craziness before an event is always worth it when you see your hard work come to life onsite. Having that reward taken away from you feels anticlimactic.

But that feeling soon wears off (believe me!) and our team were quickly in solution mode. Within 24 hours of cancellation we had scheduled an interactive videocast, where analysts could present their talks online and take questions from the audience, following the same structure as initially planned. We learnt that in circumstances like this, events teams must react quickly and with digital solutions. If your attendees can’t come to your event, bring your event to them!

By reacting quickly, we were able to take our event online, allowing Canalys to still share its analysis with clients and the wider industry. Our marketing collateral was still sent, registrations were still completed, and initial contacts were still made. We did suffer cancellation charges (venue, travel, etc), but we were able to reach our customers. The videocast even did so well that Canalys’ mobile team have launched a five-part “Midweek Matters” videocast series to share analysis of the coronavirus situation. I was proud of my team for showing agility and dedication to our customers. They saw an opportunity in the crisis and, in turn, have helped Canalys reinvigorate how we communicate during this time.


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