CAEM Responds to Coronavirus Outbreak: A Message from the President

Dear CAEM Members,

COVID-19 is presenting the business events and travel industries with an unprecedented global challenge. With major organizations cancelling their events across the world, we know that many of our members are wondering what the implications of COVID-19 will have on their upcoming events. CAEM is monitoring the situation closely and will provide updates as they come in.

As you are aware, the outbreak was declared as a Pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) and we are also seeing some global travel being halted and will continue to monitor the recommendations of the WHO, and the latest press releases from WHO can be found here.

See here for the Federal Government Guidelines on mass gatherings, as it contains sound information on risk assessment, based on audience. Please refer to your Regional/Provincial public health authorities for region-specific advice and we have provided the links below.

We encourage all our members to develop their own policies and plans around their upcoming meetings and events. For our members who wish to evaluate the impact of COVID-19 on their events and their organizations, we have developed an action plan and a list of recommended next steps:

Recommended Next Steps:

1.       Arrange a Board or Committee meeting to discuss the risks and implications of cancelling or postponing your conference, event, or meeting. Agenda items should include:

  • Attendee demographics and the likelihood of registrants being impacted by the virus.
  • Likelihood of lower attendance due to COVID-19 fears and a preference of attendees to opt out of non-essential travel.
  • Likelihood of sponsor, exhibitor or speaker cancellations for the same reason as above, or due to concerns over lower attendance.
  • Consider reducing expenses associated with your conference, event or meeting.
  • Consider adding additional wording to your cancellation policy. If you don’t currently have a cancellation policy, one should be established.
  • Potential implications to your organization’s bottom line.

2.      Review all the financial obligations and implications as it relates to cancelling or postponing your conference/event. This includes:

  • Venue contract cancellation policies. You may need to call the specific venue to ask how they are handling COVID-19 cancellations.
  • Supplier contracts (AV, caterers, etc.) should be handled the same as above.
  • Sponsor, exhibitor and speaker contracts. Additionally, you should ask speakers if they plan to continue business travel and what they might be willing to do should they decide not to travel due to COVID-19.

3.      Develop a registrant communication providing an update on the status of the conference/event. Information could include:

  • Likelihood of cancellation
  • Attendee cancellation policies
  • Plans that will be put in place at the conference/event to ensure the safety of attendees

We are committed to working with our members to navigate this unique situation.

Should there be any need to update you further we will do so again directly. We respect that many are getting information from a variety of sources but if you have any questions or specific concerns please contact our office at [email protected] or 416-787-9377.


Catherine MacNutt, CAEM President