The coronavirus is beginning to have real impact on the wedding and corporate event industry (even Pearl Jam cancelled the first leg of their national tour). Dozens of DJs are reporting cancellations.
First off — for those DJs wondering if wedding insurance covers global pandemics, the answer is, sadly, no. “Any transmitted illnesses have never been a covered peril, for any insurance policy,” said Dale Wittick, CPCU at PEEP Insurance, performing entertainers & event professionals in Collegeville, PA. “There is no insurance for sharing germs.”
So, insurance companies will not be paying on event cancellations.
Any transmitted illnesses have never been a covered peril, for any insurance policy. — Dale Wittick, CPCU at PEEP Insurance
For right now, it’s not a problem as most DJs have solid contracts. Here’s how DJs are dealing with it:
Juan Manuel at K&A Event Professionals in Atlanta had a cancellation yesterday — for a Chinese wedding. “A lot of their family members in China declined to fly because of their health,” said Samuel.
“We kept the deposit but gave an option to rebook at a future date,” he said. “We have reopened the date in our system for another client to book. Our contract clearly states about rebooking or using the payment for another event.”
Our contract does say cancellations 21 days prior to event they get all money back minus deposit — we have some clients who give more then the deposit so we would refund the additional money, just not the deposit. Twenty days or less, they are responsible for the balance.”
Manuel said that he’s been reaching out to clients booked in April and May to see what are they considering.
“This is our first cancellation like this,” he said. “I’ve had two other cancellations in the 6 years we started as a business. One was for a groom who was deployed out to the army, and the second, a cheating bride.”
DJ Saad in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma had a corporate event canceled. “I didn’t have a contract because I’ve been doing business with the promoter for years,” he said. “Technically it’s postponed, no date yet. So to keep my great relationship I didn’t ask for anything extra since the promoter is going through difficult times himself. ”
Saad does have contract in place for other clients, of course. “For those we have the deposit and contracts in play for future events.”
He does educate his clients on how to protect themselves. “I used lysol wipes before it was cool to wipe my microphones when I hand them off to other speakers,” he said, adding that in his 25 years of DJIng, “this is a first.”
Gregg Hollmann at Ambient DJs in East Windsor, NY is feeling the pinch. “In the past 24 hours, we’ve had two cancellation/postponements from Princeton University,” he said. “One of them is a wedding for 4/25 that is now in limbo due to the University’s safety precautions and ‘social distancing’ policy.”
Hollmann said deposits will remain non-refundable, but will be flexible to transfer that deposit to a re-scheduled date.
“I’m thinking to step up our non-refundable deposit rate from 25% to a bit more as a hedge against more cancellations,” he said. “For new bookings, that language can be added immediately. Some of our VIP repeat clients don’t have to pay deposit. Going forward it’s wise to re-instate collecting deposits.”
Hollmann said he’s also considering new contractual language to protect clients if his DJs get sick from CV-19 or are scared to be around crowds.
Currently, if one of his DJs gets sick, Hollmann’s company has a right to send replacement DJ from his staff. “Only for weddings must the change be pre-approved,” he said. “If client doesn’t approve change, then they can get their deposit back.”
Hollmann feels that’s an extreme stance. “That places all of the risk on the client. We’ve always approached business with more consumer-friendly policies where both parties bear some risk. There are hard nosed business people who can get away with policies like this, but I’ll bet these DJs lose more jobs than they know by being consumer-unfriendly.”
Experience like this before: Not managing a DJ company. When I used to be a stock jockey working in Southeast Asia, I experienced an emerging markets meltdown and economic collapse – there was financial contagion that ravaged the stock and currency markets throughout the region. There was mass hysteria and panic selling.
2008 was so bad because all of the excesses in the credit markets came to ahead, and the financial hangover lasted years as banks tightened up their lending practices and cleaned up their balance sheets. The recovery from CV-19 should be quicker once the flu has run its course and people can get back to business as usual!
Upstate New York
Mike Alevras at LB Entertainment in Newburgh, NY, is only just starting to notice some of the effects of this ever-changing story.
“We have had only one contracted event discuss options about a postponement — a fundraising dinner/trivia at a synagogue. They may consider delaying the event due to low ticket sales.”
Alevras has seen attendance at some wedding shows/expos down from the usual numbers. But overall it has not had a major impact. But he is paying attention and being proactive in the following ways:
- “We are reminding potential clients that we can conduct meetings via Skype/FaceTime.”
- “We are removing masks from our photobooth props and we have Clorox wipes to wipe down other photo booth props.”
- “We preplanned and ordered a box of hand Sanitizer pumps. We have them with us on gigs and available at our wedding expo display for all to use.”
- “We are prepared to explain to all clients (those that are contracted and those considering booking us) that while their down-payment is non refundable, we will apply it to a future date within one year if they decide to postpone for a future event.”
Mark Brenneisen at All We Do Is Epic Dot Com in Glens Falls, NY, has not felt any impact — not even on the international travel for vacations and honeymoon and destination weddings. “Zero cancellations,” he said, “and I’ve heard from the others in our ADJA chapter and none have felt it either.”
Justin Reid in Greenville, SC, said that he’s not seeing a lot of activity related to coronavirus. “It seems that corporate events are the ones making adjustments/postponements and are going to be taking a much larger hit,” he said. “Fortunately, we don’t do super massive conferences so we have been fortunate thus far with only one potential postponement. Either way, we will not be refunding deposits, rather allowing them to transfer dates without penalty.”
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