Saturday, July 12, 2008

How To: Improve Any Venue with $10

(Please click for full resolution.)

In terms of performance, markerboards are hard to beat! The materials are cheap, usually $8 for a simple board and $2 for markers, but the payoff is improved organization and better communication between everyone. However, this is only if the board is set up well! A blank board will likely never get used -- but add some sort of framework, give people markers, and something wonderful will happen. I'll show you how to get the best performance out of this simple tool, and point out why every nudist resort (or other venue) should have one.

The philosophy is simple -- anyone can grab a marker and start writing and erasing at will. What prevents someone from messing it up? Well nothing, really. Most nudists are genuinely good, so it's probably not going to happen. They have a right to write, and you have a right to erase, and vice-versa. It all balances out. Good writings will stick, and the not-so-good ones (or out-of-date ones) will be erased.

The image above is created by me and is loosely based on Nudiarist's Paradise Gardens post. It serves as an example for what I'm talking about in this post.


The markerboard that I have was about $8 at Wal-mart. I have two of them at home because they work so well -- we use them all the time. (Note the duct tape holding it together in the picture.) The markers are very cheap, and $2 can get you a 4-pack of small ones. I'd recommend larger sizes so they don't run out as quick. A markerboard with no markers is useless, so make sure you have plenty on hand! If you run out, make it a top priority for your next shopping trip. As long as people cap them properly, they should last for quite a while.

If you want a huge markerboard, use solid white tileboard or showerboard. (See the link for details.) You can get a 4' x 8' slab at Home Depot for only $13. Bigger is always better -- one that size could hold every event and announcement for a year and have plenty of space left over.

The cost of having a markerboard is almost free, even for a resort on a shoe-string budget. If you frequent a resort that doesn't have one, consider this one of the cheapest and best donations you could ever give them. Make sure to print out this post and include it in the gift.


Now that you have a shiny new board, where should it go? You have two priorities in figuring this out:
  1. Keep it away from kids, or it'll become artwork.
  2. Place it in a high-traffic area, such as a lobby, office, or pool area, so everyone sees it often and can contribute.
Mounting options are quite open. For a smaller board, you can hang it or attach it to the wall. For mine, I have it hanging from two door-hangers. (They go over the top of the door and have a hook. I attached rope to the hooks and around the markerboard.) If you end up with the giant slab of showerboard, you can just lean it up against the wall. Remember that if it's on the ground, kids will dominate the sections that they can reach.

It's a good idea to hang the markers next to or above the board to deter kids. If they don't rest well on top, make a loop out of string around the top corner of the board. Then, bend a paperclip into a hook and tape it to the marker. Finally, hang the marker on the loop. Some boards are magnetic, and some markers have magnets. If you have these, simply attach them to the board. This is a bit more expensive though, and uses up valuable markerboard real estate.

Framework Overview

A blank markerboard never gets much use. As board-master, it is your goal to bring organization to this large slab of white. You need to define a framework that promotes contribution, and keeps everyone informed and collaborating smoothly. Follow this guide to start things off, and tweak things or expand as needed later on.

First is to choose your color. On my board, I used black for everything provided by management. The framework is in black, and my notes are also in black. Of course, I make sure to keep all black markers to myself, so everyone else knows that if it's black, it's me. This way it's easy to tell if management added something, or if it was someone else.

If your framework will be permanent, consider drawing it out in permanent marker. That way the lines, etc. cannot be erased. This is good for dividing up the board and dedicating sections to certain things. Any other messages should be erasable. If you really need to make changes, a new board is only another $8-$13.


There are specially designed markerboards that have a 1-month blank calendar on them -- just write in the date numbers and events. Or, make one yourself. If you have a smaller board (like mine), limit yourself to having "this week" and "next week". Make sure to keep this up-to-date! If you have a larger board, do a whole month. Remember to make the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday spaces a little bigger since more events usually happen those days. I chose to use European-style weeks, because I like "weekends" to be at the end, and Monday to be the start of the week.

Encourage other people to add their own events. If Bob and Ann are having a poker tournament, they should add it to the calendar. It's a whole lot easier than trying to tell everyone face-to-face and round them up at the right time. Using the board keeps everyone informed about what's going on, so they can make their own schedules. Bob and Ann could even ask people to RSVP in the "Other Notes" section.


How to you inform everyone about something? Meetings take time, and many don't go. Signs and posters are wasteful. The PA system might be a little annoying, if we can hear it. Face-to-face takes forever and can miss people. Writing it on the public markerboard is a simple and effective solution!

This section is dedicated to what management has to say. Anyone could write in here, but remember that black is the color of management, and they have the means to erase everything else.


This is extremely important, and something that most neglect. I'll drive the point home with my "Future Resort" series later on, but I'll try to summarize it here.

Tasking is the best way to organize what needs work and who is working on it. Traditional resorts are bad at Tasking! They either force members to do stuff, or try to do it all themselves. Owners have a hectic life because everything is broken and everyone is relying on them to fix it. Too often, they forget about the little things. This is a problem, to which I have the solution: Open up!

Having a task list allows people to add things that they find, and to volunteer to fix things when they have extra time. (Nudists seem to have a LOT of extra time, especially the permanent residents.) Also, this lets people voice things instead of just wander away and leave it for the next person.

In my example, Nudiarist stumbled onto a few broken things that people probably forgot about. He generously added these to the board: "Balance pool table" and "Replace [broken] darts". Dan knows how to balance a pool table, and has time this afternoon to work on it, so he added his name to that task. Nobody knows where to get new darts, so it's still open for a volunteer. It's time to mow the lawns again, so the usual guy (Dave) has been assigned to do it. When Dan and Dave finish their tasks, they should erase them.

What does the owner have to do? Not much! The place practically fixes itself, and nothing is forgotten. If the darts task is open for a while, the owner can step in and find/buy some new ones. With this method, the simple things are pointed out and taken care of by the community without much intervention by management.

A problem that may occur is that people never volunteer. A discount for the resort is good incentive -- post the amount by the task. (In black, of course.) I know that I'd volunteer to fix stuff to reduce the cost of my stay!


Things cost money. Anyone can coordinate fundraisers and donate the money to a "community account" at the venue. Then, have people vote for what they think the money should be spent on. Make sure to keep names with the votes, because people should have only one vote. (If they re-vote, consider it a revised one.) If nobody likes the "community bikes" idea, and the owner buys them, it's only going to make people angry and go unused. Let people vote for what they want, and they might be more willing to donate more money towards it. The owner acts to buy what makes the most people happy, and will have the money quicker. (If the "Pool AC System" is something everyone really wants, you can bet they'll be contributing money to get it.)

At most places, I pinch my pennies because I don't know where that money is going. I can only assume it's going to the owner's pocket. Inform people and they'll be more willing to participate and get the funds you need.

Other Notes

This section is for anything else. Consider it a place to fill in all the gaps. See what I have in the bottom corner of my board. Good ideas are classifieds, lost+found, thanks and other feedback. It can also be used to track stuff, like a to-do list for a big event or the status of the all-day volleyball tournaments. It's like a forum where anything goes.


Observe how I took a drab block of white and transformed it into a tool for productivity and organization. It's so simple and so useful that I find it hard to believe that venues choose to operate without one. Also, it's so cheap that any member can donate one. This is a tool that has a huge payoff at an almost-free cost, and I strongly suggest that any member or venue that is reading this should give it a shot. It improves communication between guests and management, and reduces the burden on management to coordinate everything. A better-quality resort will boost revenue and boost member happiness. There's no downside to introducing a markerboard to your resort, so do it!

Shameless Plug

For a high-tech, world-wide nudist markerboard, see the WWNCW. It has the same concept as I've presented above, and is completely free!

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