Planning an Experiential Event in a Time of Uncertainty

We’re in uncharted waters here.  In my over 20 years in the event entertainment industry, I’ve seen every type of contract and insurance policy you can imagine.  But I can’t say I’ve ever heard of a contingency plan for a worldwide illness. Now is the time for experiential marketing companies and producers to work with their clients to develop those plans.  With more and more events cancelling every day due to the serious threat of the spreading COVID-19 pandemic, we’re seeing brands pivot from live events to “virtual experiences”.

While sound thinking and a great way to connect with fans and consumers while the world temporarily sits in social isolation, events in the digital space will never match the impact of in person experiences. 


Memorable events and activations take months (or years) of planning to execute successfully.  Having an event cancelled after putting in so much hard work planning can be heartbreaking. It can also be devastating financially for your client.  But putting a stop to all aspects of planning and production right now is not the right move. Waiting to see how this situation plays out will cost brands invaluable production time that we can never get back.  We all need to be ready to roll out amazing events once the virus has cleared. But we can not ignore the possibility of more events getting called off either. The solution is for agencies to work with their client partners with open communication throughout the entire planning process.


Event production has many phases.  Expenses occur throughout the process.  With smart planning and a realistic production timeline, a conservative spending schedule can be established. A project’s budget should be frontloaded with expenses on design, development, and production of assets that can be utilized even if the event is cancelled. As content is created, alternative uses should be considered.  

  • How can we minimize the financial impact of an event cancellation? 
  • Can we use an asset at another event later in the year if necessary?  
  • Can this content be pushed out digitally? 
  • How much of our spend can be held back until closer to the event date?  

Working with your client on these key questions is paramount in these uncertain times.


No one is sure of how long this situation will last, but we all know it won’t be forever.  The event world needs to be ready when life returns to normal. Social gatherings will be more important than ever before.  Work needs to continue to be ready for that time.

Partnering with a brand experience agency that understands the situation, asks the right questions, and communicates clearly throughout the planning and spending process of production will ensure brands aren’t late to the party once we’re past this situation.  And what a party it will be. Please be safe and smart, and listen to the advice and direction from health professionals. If you have any questions, please reach out to GDX Studios, we’re open for business!