Are Risk-Free Cancellation Policies a Good Idea?

The PCMA Catalyst community shares opinions on post-COVID-19 cancellation policies. PCMA’s Catalyst community offers members a platform to ask each other questions, share ideas, or, as the website says, “communicate and collaborate.” Here’s a sampling from a recent Catalyst discussion. Post-COVID-19 Cancellation Policies “We are planning ahead for our future events and are considering offering a risk-free cancellation policy, meaning that up to 90 days prior to the event, people can cancel for free — get a full refund of the registration fee,” Nadja Beverage, director of conferences, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, wrote to the PCMA Catalyst community. “Are you considering a similar approach? Or will you be moving forward with your existing cancellation policy? For us that standard cancellation policy was cancellations up to two weeks prior to the event would receive a refund minus an admin fee; after that no refunds are given. Thank you for your thoughts. Stay safe and healthy!” I definitely think a grace period of full refund is good to have. Make it as close in to the event as possible. However, you should always charge an admin fee to cover your own costs. We typically make this minimal but enough to cover any associated labor costs. — Kara Dao, senior director, client engagement and operations, JDC Events We are going to offer a 100 percent refund anytime for our 2020 annual meeting in November. — Jeanne Pluemer, senior meetings manager, ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Societies We are doing the exact opposite. We are cutting our normal registration fee in half and doing a no-refund policy. We talked about doing a sliding scale, cheaper the earlier you book and it gets more expensive as we get closer, and the staff decided against that. We haven’t opened registration yet (November program), so we’ll see if this is the right course of action. For us, being too generous with the cancel clause hurts us on the planning side and with the hotel. We want to know where we stand financially earlier in the process, particularly if we have to cancel or move our event virtually. — Diane Dukes, director of meetings and events, Professional Liability Underwriting Society

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The PCMA Catalyst community shares opinions on post-COVID-19 cancellation policies.

PCMA’s Catalyst community offers members a platform to ask each other questions, share ideas, or, as the website says, “communicate and collaborate.” Here’s a sampling from a recent Catalyst discussion.

Post-COVID-19 Cancellation Policies

“We are planning ahead for our future events and are considering offering a risk-free cancellation policy, meaning that up to 90 days prior to the event, people can cancel for free — get a full refund of the registration fee,” Nadja Beverage, director of conferences, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, wrote to the PCMA Catalyst community. “Are you considering a similar approach? Or will you be moving forward with your existing cancellation policy? For us that standard cancellation policy was cancellations up to two weeks prior to the event would receive a refund minus an admin fee; after that no refunds are given. Thank you for your thoughts. Stay safe and healthy!”


I definitely think a grace period of full refund is good to have. Make it as close in to the event as possible. However, you should always charge an admin fee to cover your own costs. We typically make this minimal but enough to cover any associated labor costs.

— Kara Dao, senior director, client engagement and operations, JDC Events


We are going to offer a 100 percent refund anytime for our 2020 annual meeting in November.

— Jeanne Pluemer, senior meetings manager, ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Societies


We are doing the exact opposite. We are cutting our normal registration fee in half and doing a no-refund policy. We talked about doing a sliding scale, cheaper the earlier you book and it gets more expensive as we get closer, and the staff decided against that. We haven’t opened registration yet (November program), so we’ll see if this is the right course of action. For us, being too generous with the cancel clause hurts us on the planning side and with the hotel. We want to know where we stand financially earlier in the process, particularly if we have to cancel or move our event virtually.

— Diane Dukes, director of meetings and events, Professional Liability Underwriting Society

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