Wednesday, July 6, 2016

New Print Kiosk at the Gathering 2016

For a number of years now, GNI has been offering a digital schedule at our nude events which has come with tremendous benefits but has dissatisfied some users who don’t want to carry around smartphones to rely on daily activities. For many years, GNI published a printed schedule and passed them out to attendees when they arrived. Our schedules became more of a magazine-like publication including advertisements, but it was also extremely expensive to produce. The downside of a printed schedule is that it had to be submitted to the printing house weeks in advance of The Gathering and any last minute changes or new additions of activities (which there are many) wouldn’t be reflected in the final copy. These omissions were handled by placing signs around camp informing attendees of schedule changes, but as often is the case, attendees wouldn’t be in an area where the posters were placed around camp and would miss out on any changes to affected activities that they might be interested in. Truly, it was an inefficient, expensive, and time-consuming way to inform members of the daily and weekly activities of our busy event. The cost to produce one printed copy of the schedule was roughly $15 per copy and what we found was that when the Gathering was over and the Board/Staff were doing inspections in cabins and public areas, we found dozens of our costly schedule tossed into trash cans or left behind. We were throwing away thousands of dollars in printed materials at the end of the week and it was at that time the Board of Directors opted to move to a digital schedule instead. We simply couldn’t continue to throw money down the proverbial drain.

This move to an electronic schedule solved many of the problems we had with a printed schedule, i.e. it was much less expensive to produce and changes / additions could be made on-the-fly which would update immediately in real time on any mobile device. The downside of a digital schedule was expressed in the following Gathering feedback surveys: 

1. “I don’t want to carry around a smartphone to see what’s going on during my vacation;” 
2. “the schedule updates are made only in the WiFi area of camp or I have to use my data plan to capture any changes;” 
3. “I want a hardcopy to carry with me;” 
4. “for those that don’t have smartphones, iPads, laptops, or technology, we feel like GNI is isolating us;” and 
5. “we would like the schedules to be posted in the cabins so all guests can see what is going on during the day and make plans accordingly.” These are all very valid criticisms and complaints of having a solely digital schedule and after a few years of listening to these complaints, in 2014 the Board committed to resolving these issues once and for all.

This year in August, GNI will be unveiling a print kiosk that will be available 24/7 to all guests where any member may print a hardcopy of the daily schedule to take with him. The nice thing about this setup is that any changes that are made to the schedule (and there are many, frequent changes for a number of reasons) will also be immediately updated in the print kiosk thus providing the most current schedule available at the time of printing. Because of this opportunity, we do NOT recommend printing the whole weeks’ schedule out in advance because most assuredly there will be changes to it. We do recommend visiting the print kiosk daily to print the current day and possibly the next days’ schedule, keeping in mind that changes might occur to the next days’ schedule anytime.

To make things even more efficient, we’ve set the schedule up to allow for three different “views” that attendees will be able to select at the time they print. The first view is an abbreviated schedule showing the daytimename of the activity, and location. This is enough information to orient guests to the days’ activities. The second view is the same as the first, but we’ve added one more thing to it – you can see the detailed menu for lunch and dinner – something that everyone wants to know in advance. The third view is the same as the first except we’ve added the detailed description to every entry. This view, of course, will require a LOT more paper to print and it’s something that we don’t recommend everyone to print since the first two view options will suffice. We may also limit this third view to viewing only and disable the printing option, but we haven’t decided the final disposition of this option yet. We will continue to offer the digital version as well since a number of guests do like not carrying around a piece of paper but will have their mobile device with them throughout the day.

The print kiosk will be set up on the front porch of the main camp office accessible to everyone anytime. We’ve developed the product and have thoroughly tested it and are happy to say that it works quite well! We think members will be pleased with it and it will solve most of the issues we’ve had with offering a digital (only) schedule. Once again, we want to thank everyone for their input and remind them that the Board does listen to its members and works to resolve issues that arise. See everyone in August.