Why do events have a “no refund policy” if someone can’t make it?

Fresh off the Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium (sponsored by Oak Knoll Winery) and headed to another one in July (the Eleventh Annual Petite Sirah Symposium, sponsored by Concannon Vineyard)…

This is a question I’m asked for every event without fail, “Do you have a ‘no refund policy,’ if I can’t make it?”

First of all; the odds are, as with any event, there’s a no refund policy in place. Below are just a few good reasons that easily come to mind, having been behind the Wizard’s curtain since the 1960s with events…

When you buy a ticket, all of the following goes into action. If you cancel and we return your money, the following losses will never be recaptured:

  • Labor
    • Processing the person – pre the event (keeping the records is a constant admin job)
      • If it’s by check, either I or someone else have spent my time and gas…
        • I’ve already driven to the bank and made the bank deposit
        • Or, someone else has performed the task and that person must be paid for his/her service
    • Adding the company to the publicity and social media that goes out
    • For both print and on-line, immediately
  • Fees
    • If it’s a credit card transaction, the company has already taken its fee
    • Meals with catering companies, who require a head count
  • Hard products
    • Name tag
    • Table Tent
    • Attendee kit for the day
    • Program or agenda
    • Map of the location
  • Reserved space
    • That someone else might have had, if there’s a sell out
    • My events sell out, I’ve learned over time

There is the school of thought that we can push up prices BEFORE the event happens on each ticket, so the losses that a few people create by actually getting a refund, creates a level playing field for the cost of doing business. I don’t personally ascribe to the thought of, “Why should the people who do attend pay for those who can’t?”