Selecting the Right Venue for your Meeting

The most important step before selecting a location or venue is to understand the overall goals, objectives and outcomes desired at the end of your conference.  Is the purpose to incentivize or Sales Meeting Venuereward?  Is the goal to strategize and plan? Or, is the goal to educate and train?  The answer to these questions may assist your organization to select the right type of venue and location.  Though budget is always a factor; the desired outcomes should be the first consideration.

Cities and resort destinations are often the first locations considered for sales launches and incentive trips.  These destinations are convenient to attractions, dining and shopping.  If building a cohesive sales team is important to your organization, then perhaps other destinations and venue types should be explored.  Conference centers are often overlooked because they do not provide a traditional hotel experience.

Most conference centers are dedicated only to meetings.  Your attendees are not competing for attention with other leisure travelers and non-meeting guests.  If your conference center is a member of  IACC, the International Association for Conference Centers, then that conference center has implemented a set of benchmarks within their venue to reflect the highest standards, facilities, technology, and are modeled with strong corporate social responsibility in mind.  Conference centers simplify the buying process through offering a CMP, or Complete Meeting Package, to encompass meals, breaks, meeting room rentals, basic a/v and internet.  Many items such as executive board chairs often come standard.  Less add-on fees and fewer hidden charges are assessed.

Conference Centers provide an environment for learning, networking, and team building.  The open spaces and wide variety of meeting and event space provide near limitless opportunities for you to create a meeting that achieves your objectives while creating a memorable and meaningful program for your attendees.

About The National

The National Conference Center, located 40 minutes from Washington, DC and 12 miles from Dulles International Airport, is enjoying a renaissance of epic proportion.

Under new ownership and management and following a multi-Aerial view of The Nationalmillion dollar investment in the first two years of a three year plan, The National presents a beautiful 65 acre campus featuring newly renovated spaces and new venues, including the new lobby Living Room, the National Secret “speakeasy” and the National Challenge Course, as well as an innovative re-engineering of the entire culinary programming  to include “a la minute-style” food service at breakfast, lunch and dinner in the newly remodeled Dining Room.

With 917 guest rooms and 250 conference rooms, including Northern Virginia’s largest ballroom (16,552sf), The National is a hybrid of the best from conference centers, the size of a convention center and the flexibility of an independent venue devoted to productive meetings and events at the forefront of the learning and development marketplace.

Meetings, conferences and small conventions ranging from 12 persons to 1,200 are uniquely accommodated within the 55,000sf West Belmont Place and two purpose-built conference wings featuring five “pods” that enable a conference/hotel within a conference hotel concept for groups up to 200 participants.

In addition to the 1.2M square feet interior meeting space under one roof, The National Challenge Course features 14 elements within a beautifully designed six-acre circuit that enables Hi element rope courseexperiential learning for as many as 250 persons. A partnership with the Browne Center delivers facilitation for leadership development, team building and other learning and development opportunities.

Exciting additions, renovations and innovative products and services continue to enhance the total guest experience at The National Conference Center. If you have not recently visited The National, you do not know The “new” National.

Six Trends Observed in Experiential Learning

The National Conference Center – one of the nation’s largest conference centers and the largest on the East Coast – with its partner The Browne Center, has observed six trends in experiential learning.

Team Building at NCC

 

Experiential learning presents a highly unique growth opportunity for participants, and a tool that planners can use to achieve a specific outcome.  Differentiated from the more traditional teambuilding, experiential learning uses a blended approach to learning, integrating activities, exercises, adventure elements, quiet time and ongoing post-event coaching to create powerful programs of leadership development, strategic planning, mentoring and coaching, communication, feedback & observation and enhancement of behavior styles.

 

 

Team Building with Chef

 

Six Trends Observed in Experiential Learning:

  1. Barrier Free Learning … Take away the white classroom tables. Barrier free learning is hands-on training in a lab-like setting verses the traditional meeting room or classroom. For example, The National has created an entire workroom and lab for simulation or scenario training for a top major client to deliver new skills, taking away the barrier of the ‘white table’ with attendees learning in a lab or open space area.
  2. Learning by Choice … Mixing classroom training with outdoor activities. The Challenge Course at The National has high and low rope elements, and increasingly facilitators are using a Challenge-by-Choice approach.  Learning Programs are designed to meet the variety of goals unique to each client, whether conferees make use of the elements of the high or low course, or none at all. There is a role for everyone in the training, even if individuals choose not to physically participate.
  3. Learning by Shared Experiences … Creating ‘shared experiences’, such as a building project, where everyone is involved collectively – from C-level executives to assistant managers – taking each participant out of their comfort zone and into a creative problem solving task to construct the future.
  4. Learning by Silence … Groups are increasingly exploring the power of silence in a high-speed, technically dependent world. Facilitators are allowing more time for conferees’ solo quests, reflection, meditation time and movements like yoga that can provide powerful reconnection with the natural world, and the true inner self, opening new channels of connection and learning.
  5. Learning by Doing… Learners participate in carefully chosen experiences that are supported by reflection, critical analysis and synthesis. It engages the learners to be in direct experience, to be doing something that connects to an area they hope to improve or develop.  The learner is actively engaged in posing questions, investigating, experiment-ting, being curious, and solving problems, assuming responsibility, being creative, and constructing meaning.
  6. Learning through Application … While debriefing is a structured process facilitated by a skilled professional throughout the process of a program, it has been in place for some time.  Today a post program application assists participants over time with how learning translates back at the office. There are a number of strategies that can be arranged to help facilitate this continued learning process. These include, self-directed debrief meetings, professional coaching sessions by phone or in person, or follow up, mini sessions at the one, two or three month intervals. These sessions can be highly productive and fun, assisting the participants in real time learning application issues. They can be on the participants work site or scheduled as an offsite.

 

High-Y-Pam-Image1

 

The National Conference Center installed a state-of-the-art challenge course last year to provide additional training and learning opportunities for their clients. The National Challenge Course consists of five low elements plus many portable options, which are weight bearing problem solving activities that can accommodate 15 or more people at any one time. Also six high elements can be done with two or more solo, or with many other climbers simultaneously. All high elements are dynamic relays where participants hold the rope for one another.

For more information about experiential learning at The National, call 800-640-2684.

3 Loudoun County Side Trips to add to your Meeting Agenda

Meeting planners often are looking for activities off property to enhance their attendees’ experience. Check out these three Loudoun County side trips that can be added to any meeting agenda.

Sometimes you just need to get attendees moving and out of the classroom or meeting room. In beautiful Loudoun County, known for its historic, equestrian and agricultural landscapes, there are many attractions that can be added to your meeting agenda.

The National is part of a vibrant community in Loudoun County, with its award-winning, revitalized downtown, entertainment, sports, arts, shopping, dining and agriculture including wineries, breweries and distilleries. The surrounding Loudoun area offers everything from fishing, hiking and boating to golf, antiquing and exploring historic sites.

We’ve put together three side trips that we think would add value to any meeting, training or conference. These trips can be used as teambuilding add-ons or just a fun way for attendees to spend time together, an important part of any meeting.

Challenge Your Team

Team Building at NCCIf teambuilding events are planned and executed well, people feel good about themselves and about their colleagues. This trip starts right here at The National’s Challenge Rope Course.

Low Elements -permanent weight bearing structures constructed outdoors of wood and cables and High Elements-outdoor challenges constructed of wood and cable that allow participants to be as high as 40’.  All participants are in climbing gear and are protected by belayers.

The Rope Course could take place in the morning; then break for lunch with a Southern-style BBQ in the courtyard; then off to Pev’s Paintball or Top Golf. Paintball is fast paced, high-tension game that brings people together with a little pressure and competition. In order to win a game of paintball, your team must work together, communicate, and be willing to take risks. Our team can create a customized team-building program or your group can simply learn to play the game and have a recreational event.

Top Golf Dulles , now open in Loudoun County, features 102 bays over 3 floors, an amazing rooftop terrace, lively bars and a golf game concept that is sure to blow you away! Anyone can play Topgolf, from aspiring pros to those who’ve never walked 18 holes. All you have to do is swing a club and try to hit your microchipped balls into dartboard-like targets. It’s competitive. It’s fun. And it’s always better with a big group! There are many different packages available with food and beverage included.

Meet and Eat

Meet and EatStart the day off with a bus tour to Leesburg Farmer’s markets sponsored by EatLoco. Loudoun County is filled with rolling hills and farmland studded with orchards, vineyards, Christmas tree farms, and much more. From the eco-ganic vegetables at Potomac Vegetable Farm and the certified-humane heritage breed meats and organic produce at Ayrshire Farm to the county’s hand crafted beer, wine, and spirits, Loudoun brings the farm to your table. Visit the local farmers market with Executive Chef Todd Goldian as you plan for a custom Chef’s Table that night. That’s right, you’ll pick the produce, cook the dinner with chef in the kitchen and then visit a winery or brewery the next day. We know the value of food to meetings. Research shows that food plays an important role in ensuring meetings are more efficient and more productive when attendees are eating food that effectively fuels their minds.

Our Chief Wine Officer Mary Watson will host a winery or brewery tour with you to learn how to taste wine, what to look for when pairing wine with food and explain the Loudoun County terroir. See the full list of wineries and breweries just a few miles from the National.

Backyard History

Morven ParkStart the day with a visit to the regional park, which was the site of the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. This October 21, 1861 clash was the second largest to take place in the county during the Civil War. It took place along the banks of the Potomac River, where the Union fell backward into the river in a defeat that merited a congressional investigation. The national cemetery here is one of the smallest in the country. A one mile hiking trail offers interpretive signs.

A visit and tour of Morven Park will not disappoint. The movie, “Fighting & Frolicking”, brings to life Confederate soldiers in camp early in the Civil War. The living history program features historical interpreters portraying Civil War soldiers who lived at Morven Park in the winter of 1861-62, as well as civilians.

If time permits, a driver could take your group through the Mosby Heritage Area or you could do a Middleburg Walking Tour.

End the day with a historically researched dinner prepared by the culinary team, along with a teambuilding exercise: Civil War Trivia Night in the Black Olive Bar & Grill.

Whichever you choose, each of these side trips complement  teambuilding activities or could be used as networking opportunities. Ask your conference planner for a private tour of our rope course or to help set up the culinary or historic tours. We look forward to working with you.

WEST BELMONT PLACE

Galas, weddings and social events at West Belmont Place, adjacent to The National, offer an elegant setting enhanced by full-service event planning. Surrounded by more than 65 scenic acres, our beautiful facility features a choice of banquet halls and event venues ideal for any occasion.

There are limitless reasons to come together…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Only one place can deliver the perfect tapestry of rich history and sophisticated hospitality. West Belmont Place boasts the largest ballroom of any Northern Virginia event venue. Your special moments become treasured memories at this distinctive DC area destination with:

 

  • An ideal location on more than 65 scenic acres in lovely Leesburg, Virginia—just 12 miles from Dulles International Airport and 45 minutes from Washington DC
  • A sweeping circular drive and distinguished porte-cochere to welcome guests
  • A variety of versatile indoor venues—including the West Belmont Place Ballroom which accommodates up to 1,800 guests—to achieve the ideal atmosphere for any event
  • Awe-inspiring outdoor spaces—such as a stunning pergola and an expansive terrace with show-stopping views—for one-of-a-kind gatherings
  • Outstanding onsite catering with creative culinary choices and wine selections for all occasions
  • An extraordinary culinary team led by our Executive Chef Todd Goldian and Chief Wine Officer Mary Watson-DeLauder CS, CSW

For more information on planning your event in our elegant venues, call 877.363.3104,  email us  or submit an  online RFP  today.

 

WEEKEND PACKAGE: UP TO 30% OFF

Meetings at The National and West Belmont Place

With over 40 years of success, as one of the country’s most comprehensive meeting facilities, The National is the proven leader in delivering an unparalleled learning and development environment for your group.  Our expansive and innovative center enables your organization to truly focus on their training while enjoying warm hospitality from our team of skilled ambassadors and energizing recreation in our pleasant, 65-acre, campus-like wooded surroundings.

Our meeting packages:

Day Meeting Package:

  • Fully equipped conference room, break-out room and meeting setups
  • Standard audiovisual package (some audiovisual aids may be subject to additional fee)
  • Lunch in the  Dining Room
  • Continuous refreshment breaks (coffee, soft drinks, snacks)
  • Dedicated conference planner
  • Use of fitness center
  • Complimentary parking
  • GSA Package priced per person, per day

The Complete Meeting Package includes:

  • Overnight accommodations
  • Professional conference planning manager
  • Fully equipped conference rooms, large meeting spaces and break-out room
  • Standard audiovisual package
  • Three meals daily in our expansive 800-seat Dining Room
  • Continuous refreshments and snacks
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi in the meeting rooms and guest rooms
  • Use of fitness center and jogging trails
  • Complimentary parking
  • GSA Package priced per person, per day

The National is dedicated to a singular focus: providing the best meeting, training and learning environment for your organization. As the leader in educational meetings for more than three decades, we can help advance corporate learning goals while maximizing training dollars. Our multipurpose event facility is also the perfect place to host conferences, conventions and symposiums of all sizes.

The National features:

  • Secure, distraction-free setting with self-contained buildings surrounded by 65 acres just 12 miles from Dulles International Airport and 45 minutes from Washington DC
  • Sophisticated 55,000 square foot West Belmont Place Event Center featuring Northern Virginia’s largest ballroom (16,552sf)
  • 265,000 square feet of event space with 250 meeting rooms organized into five distinctive areas for maximum privacy and versatility
  • Sophisticated presentation technology with onsite audiovisual and IT support
  • High-speed Internet access and climate control in all meeting rooms
  • Professional conference support team and meeting planning services
  • Innovative 800-seat Dining Room, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Black Olive Bar and Grill, for relaxing after a busy day
  • Options for private banquets and themed culinary events, to add a special note to your event
  • 917 guest rooms including 78 suites, conveniently grouped together within five distinctive areas
  • Recognized with numerous accolades including Pinnacle Awards, the M&C Gold Key Award and The Paragon Award
  • Recognized by the International Association of Conference Centers as Green Seal-certified

For more information on planning a meeting at The National, please contact the sales office,or  submit a Request for Proposal  today.

 

CHALLENGE COURSE

To add an extra dimension to corporate events, meetings and training programs, The National offers a wide variety of programs to analyze and strengthen your teams dynamic with our experiential learning and team building programs. We are able to offer a variety of team development activities that challenge, strengthen, and propel your team to the next level. We offer high and low elements as well as indoor activities; all coordinated with expert facilities to ensure your group receives maximum results.

Even the best teams can benefit from team building exercises; they’re a great way of improving communication, morale, motivation, productivity, helping employees to get to know each other better, and learning about one’s strengths and weaknesses. Team building activities can be used by any organization, large or small, to promote better teamwork in the workplace, and as most leaders know, great teamwork is one of the key factors associated with an organization’s success.

Communication and Icebreakers

Wine Seminars
Pairings in the Park (food & wine reception)
Wine Tasting

 

Problem Solving Activities

Challenge Course

Experiential activities allow people to practice the skills that are necessary to work effectively with others while also strengthening group rapport and developing leadership qualities within each member.

 

THE NATIONAL’s Challenge Course includes:

Initiatives: Portable problem solving activities

Low Elements – permanent weight bearing structures constructed outdoors of wood and cables:

  • Balance Platforms
  • Strategic Choices
  • The National Way Finder
  • Team Walls
  • Island Crossing

High Elements – outdoor challenges constructed of wood and cable that allow participants to be as high as 40’.  All participants are in climbing gear and are protected by belayers.

  • Leap of Faith-up to 2 people simultaneously
  • Flying Squirrel
  • 4 sided Climber Tower with cargo net for up to 2 people per side simultaneously
  • Giant Ladder- up to 3 people simultaneously
  • The High Tri- includes up to 2 people simultaneously on each of the following 3 activities-
    • The High Y
    • The Commitment Bridge
    • The Catwalk

Who can participate in the Course?

The great thing is that anyone can participate to their level of comfort – they will be challenged according to their choice. The success of the team depends on each member’s willingness to work with and rely on each other for support.

Contact us  to arrange your team building activities to enhance group dynamics and increase camaraderie.

Building Momentum in 2018

  1. General Manager of the Year from Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association
  2. Hotel of the Year from Virginia Restaurant, Lodging & Travel Association
  3. Platinum Choice Award from Smart Meetings
  4. Ambassador Tourism Award to Jamil Chaudhry from Visit Loudoun
  5. Tourism Action Award to Project Search from Visit Loudoun
  6. Tourism Branding Campaign “Go Big” from Visit Loudoun
  7. Partner of the Year from Loudoun County Public Schools
  8. Smart Star Award as “Best of the Best” and “Best Conference Center” from Smart Meetings magazine
  9. Award of Excellence from Corporate & Incentive Travel magazine
  10. Stella Award for Best Conference Center from Northstar Meeting Group, including Successful Meetings and Meetings & Conventions magazines
  11. Meetings Trendsetter Award to Mary Watson from Meetings Today magazine<
  12. 2017 Readers’ Choice Award Convention South

To Yourself Be True

Q&A with the National’s sales guru, Juan Garcia, offering insight on how the National attracts business from around the globe

Seal the deal: What’s your pitch for the National?

My team has developed a ‘laser focus’ policy which means we learn about our prospects and customers, their industries, their timelines, so we know what’s important to them. When we work with our clients, we are working with relevant information that helps them do their job better. More often than not, it’s about Learning and Development. It’s not about a pitch, it’s the National owning Learning and Development, which just happens to be the hot topic for lots of organizations, lots of companies.

How does the National compare to some of the other big conference hotels you’ve worked with in the past?

The National is unique because our priority is providing the ideal environment for learning and development, peer-to-peer learning, training, networking, team building, and more. Our facility is designed and built for it. Our location is ideal for it. Our technology is right for it. We’re not trying to be to everything to everyone, we’re simply in the right place for those organizations and corporations that need what we offer.

What’s the big deal about Learning and Development?

Organizations find that delivering valuable Learning & Development (L&D), higher education, and training creates tremendous value to employees or members while growing the strength of the organization itself. This recirculating ROI makes L&D a priority for top performing organizations and corporations. In addition, planners have to create a learning experience that embraces millennials to baby boomers in their workforce. For example, in dining, they have to satisfy vegans, vegetarians, pescatarians and those eating sugar-free. They have to accommodate the techies and the tech-less. They come to The National because we have all of those needs covered – flexible classrooms, team building, a world-class dining program, IT, and award-winning service.

There’s a lot happening in Loudoun. Is that part of the appeal?

This community is ripe with business, ripe with talent and bursting with places to go and things to do. Interestingly, when organizations are here for a week, we give them lots of reasons to stay on campus in the evenings. They’re networking with each other over a great dinner, taking in some fun in the Black Olive, partaking in a wine tasting, or spending quality time around our fire pits. When they do venture out to enjoy a winery tour or First Friday in Leesburg, they are wowed by all that this area has to offer. In addition to the value of our location to our customers, I’ve been able to hire great local talent who want the opportunity to work at a world-class facility, without the commute to DC.

We’re Engaged!

The season of romance gives way to some serious planning

As the elephant rounded the corner and headed straight towards the doors, wedding guests gasped… in delight! The moment was as thrilling as the bride had imagined it would be, and she knew it could only happen at West Belmont Place. With multiple ballrooms, patios and extensive grounds, West Belmont Place is the canvas on which many wedding masterpieces are created.

Holiday engagements usher in a new season of wedding planning, and certified wedding planner Paula Lynn Safran is ready for the rush. Paula and her team meet with couples, and often their families or friends, to walk the West Belmont Place property and envision their wedding experience. That first consultation tells her so much about the couple and the feeling of their wedding.

“We do things differently here. When I meet with a newly engaged couple, I’m planning their once in a lifetime, their forever. Every love story is unique and we tailor each brush stroke to become exclusively theirs.”

West Belmont Place has a long tradition of holding just one wedding at the facility at a time so couples can have their special day be theirs alone. And Paula makes sure it delivers on the things that are most important to the couple, whether it’s an outdoor ceremony at sunset, a big band, and a spacious dance floor, or a rocking after party. With an on-site design center, each customized wedding experience takes shape quickly, and up-front pricing keeps everything on budget.

“We include so many of the items that other venues charge extra for – from cake cutting to backup space for outdoor ceremonies. We want you to wake up the morning after your wedding and say hands down, ‘That was the best day of our new life together!'”

The elephant was part of a cultural wedding, one of West Belmont Place’s specialties. The facility has also been transformed to be an exotic international market, a flower-filled garden, and a black-tie extravaganza that guests will never forget. By getting to know each couple, and being engaged in every detail, the staff is able to give them a one-of-a-kind wedding day. Paula has even surprised couples with special treats on their wedding day. She served an appetizer of tiny gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup shooters to delight a groom who loves comfort food. She brought in an ice cream cart to wow a couple whose first date included Drumstick cones. And even helped a bride surprise her police officer groom with a donut truck for desserts.

“There’s no end to what we can do to make a wedding day memorable here. We go way beyond being just your location.”