Postponements, cancellations and refunds: what can we learn from the pandemic?

Postponements, cancellations and refunds: what can we learn from the pandemic?

Since the start of the pandemic, Weezevent has supported organisers on over 45,000 events. At your side, we’ve been able to observe trends as they’ve emerged. We’ve gathered together the learnings in this article to guide you in your decision-making in case your event is postponed or cancelled.


  1. Looking back on two uncertain years
  2. Postponements vs cancellations
  3. Attendee refunds
  4. Donation systems
  5. Conclusion

1. Looking back on two uncertain years

Since February 2020 the events sector has been affected by numerous restrictions and regulations, which have evolved regularly and rapidly. The periods of lockdown, limits on capacity and other various restrictions have had a considerable impact on the activity of event organisers.

During the first French lockdown in March 2020, Weezevent recorded a dizzying fall to 2% of the usual number of ticket sales. These sales, maintained despite the ban on gatherings, were mainly for online events, which at the time offered the only way for organisers to maintain the link with their audience.

The lifting of the first lockdown allowed for a recovery in activity, with a notable improvement in ticket sales (equivalent to 20% of the usual number). However, the severe restrictions on capacity did not allow for a more significant recovery.

In autumn 2020, a second lockdown came into effect in France. The related restrictions lasted until June 2021, when events were allowed to resume, boosted in the summer period with the introduction of the health pass and the easing of rules. Since then, we have seen a complete recovery in terms of ticket sales, although the number of events remains lower than in the years before the pandemic.

2. Postponements vs cancellations

The pandemic forced each organiser to ask themselves a crucial question about holding their event: should I postpone it or cancel it?

The French government, following the example of Portugal, implemented a useful system for organisers: the option to postpone the validity of a ticket for one year, thus avoiding having to refund all attendees and the potential cashflow problems associated with this.

The advantages and disadvantages of postponing an event

Choosing to postpone an event has the advantage of ensuring that a number of tickets remain sold for the next edition.

On the other hand, postponing an event leads to three restrictions:

  • The service offered as a replacement must be “of the same nature and category as the service planned under the cancelled contract”
  • Its price must not be higher than that of the original service
  • The new offer may not give rise to any price increase

Taking these aspects into account, the organiser must therefore find other ways of making up for any cash losses as well as offering attendees a similar event, even in the most uncertain times.

The advantages and disadvantages of cancelling an event

Cancelling an event allows the organiser to communicate more easily with their audience. One message for all attendees.

This option also has the advantage of allowing the organiser to change the nature of the event by offering a different format. For international music events, for example, this represents an opportunity to offer events that are smaller and with a different format compared to previous editions.

Cancelling an event, however, means having to deal with disappointed ticket holders and the considerable logistics and organisational tasks associated with this.

Whatever the decision organisers chose, Weezevent offered them a wide range of materials, blog articles and customer service to help them with the administrative procedures linked to their choice.

In the end, 40% of organisers chose to offer a postponement, with 60% opting to cancel their event.

3. Attendee refunds

When events were postponed due to Covid event organisers were not required to refund ticket holders. However, more than 99% of our clients decided to do so, mainly because they wanted to maintain a relationship of trust with their audience.

Automatic refunds or refunds on request?

Organisers of cancelled or postponed events wishing to offer refunds could adopt either automatic refunds or refunds on request by ticket holders.
Among our clients, there was an even split of 50% choosing each option.

However, for event cancellations, 80% of organisers offered automatic refunds, compared to 20% who offered refunds on request.
Automatic refunds were widely favoured, thanks to the simplicity, conviction or simply a lack of tools. The 20% of organisers who opted for refunds on request did so in particular to seek the generosity of their audience, with the option of donating part of their ticket price to the event in solidarity with the organisers.

Focus on refund requests

As for cancellations of events with non-automatic refunds, it’s interesting to note that an average of 15% of ticket holders did not make a refund request. This is mainly due to two variables: forgotten requests, and a desire to financially support the organiser.

For postponed events, an average of 55% of tickets were kept. In other words, refund requests were only made for 45% of tickets, contrary to the organisers’ initial expectations who might have thought that most attendees would opt for a refund.

On the other hand, for sold out events with high demand, such as Hellfest, 98% of tickets were kept. In this case, this type of ticket is considered valuable and a holder will keep it for as long as they can to avoid the risk of losing it and being unable to buy it back when ticket sales reopen.

4. Donation systems

Whether their events were cancelled or postponed, 50% of organisers asked their audiences to support them by setting up a donation system.

We noted a great deal of solidarity: 15% of attendees decided to make a donation with these donations averaging 23% of the ticket price. This represented 3.5% of overall ticket revenue (in addition to the average of 15% of revenues linked to cases where no refund was requested).

This meant a total of 18.5% of additional revenue for organisers who chose to offer refunds on request to their attendees.

5. Conclusion

Aside from the pandemic that we are emerging from, cancellations or postponements of events are still a possibility and are by nature unpredictable. By making this data public, we want to give you the information you need to make these crucial decisions, as opposed to relying on your own hunches and feelings.

To learn more about the options for postponement and cancellation offered by Weezevent, contact our customer service.

Get in touch

You have now subscribed to our newsletter!