First, thank you to everyone who participated in the blog hop on Friday, the 13th, and everyone who stopped by, and has so far purchased a copy of Bruised Souls & Other Torments! I just got my author copy today, so I was quite nervous, but everything looked great!
I know a lot of you are facing event cancellations, including writing conferences. I volunteer with Pikes Peak Writers, and we had to make the unfortunate choice to cancel this year's Pikes Peak Writers Conference. As one of the people who runs our monthly writing events, I'm also in the middle of scrambling to cancel and postpone events, and to figure out how to run them online for the next month. (If you have suggestions for how to run events where people can talk to each other online, I'd appreciate them! We're looking at Zoom and Facebook Live for different types of events.)
I thought some people might be curious as to why this string of cancellations may put various businesses and non-profits out of business and/or into bankruptcy. We were EXTREMELY lucky in that the event venue for our conference is willing to work with us. Had they shrugged and stuck to the contract, we would have had to claim bankruptcy, and our 501(c)(3) would have been no more. We would not have been able to recover.
Conferences put out a lot of money ahead of the event. Luckily, some of the costs are last minute, so that's money that doesn't go out until just before the event (some the week of) or after the event.
Advance Expenses (this isn't an exhaustive list--it's just to give an idea):
Airfare for faculty (this is a big one)
Registration/software/credit card fees (every transaction costs a certain amount in fees)
Percentage of the upcoming costs due to the hotel/venue in advance (massive chunk)
Bags/badge holders/printing/notebooks/pens/other giveaway shwag
Expenses Week of and Week After (again, not exhaustive):
Program printing/sign printing/other printing/printing supplies
Green room supplies
Decorations for venue/ballroom
Final payment to hotel (includes hotel rooms for staff/faculty, food and beverage)(by far the largest chunk of money goes to this)
Books ordered for onsite bookstore
Consignment fees out to authors
I can't speak for other conferences, but for ours, money brought in for conference fees must cover the conference expenses, overhead for the annual costs of running a non-profit, expenses for monthly programming, etc. So having to refund conference fees to everyone means no money brought in to cover the annual expenses of the organization, on top of conference expenses already paid out and non-refundable. Plane tickets can be used within the next year, but unfortunately, the next conference is more than a year out, so we can't reuse those tickets. Anything paid out ahead of time is a loss.
I also work for a small business, a restaurant. At this time, our governor has shut down bars, restaurants, theaters, and similar businesses, except for takeout, drive-thru, or curbside. Each small business that cannot operate right now still has to pay their rent, utilities, etc. The big concern, of course, is the employees of these places. Most businesses appear to be adapting (as we have), and are providing takeout and curbside, which keeps their employees working and earning money. But bars can't do this, nor can many other types of businesses. If restaurants in your area are staying open, consider supporting local. Corporations have something to fall back on, and they will survive. Small businesses have nothing to keep them going.
We're living through interesting times right now. What it's shown is that humans (most, anyway) are quick to adapt and survive. I hope you're all doing well. If you've had an event canceled, please try to be kind to those responsible for running it. The decision to cancel an event is a hard one, and there are many factors people may not think about when it comes to following through. Bear in mind, also, that writers conferences and other types of conventions are often run by volunteers, so we're all doing this on top of day jobs and other life events, and we're doing so for free.
On a side note, if you have children home from school during this, you might want to ask them if they have friends who are in a bad situation at home and could use a break by coming to your house. Also, it helps if you can check if any of their friends need food or access (aka driving them) to places giving out lunches and breakfasts for those who are accustomed to getting them at school. Check with your elderly neighbors and immuno-compromised friends to see if you can do a grocery run or help with other errands. And if you have other ideas for how to help others, please feel free to leave your ideas in the comments.
Has an event you were looking forward to been canceled? Has your town shut down yet? Do you know of an online format that might work to have meetings? Any ideas for how to help others during the quarantine?
May you find your Muse.
*Nosmoke Clip Art (dollar signs), clker.com, OCAL
*Hotel Icon Room Service Clip Art, clker.com, OCAL