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.

2018 is the Year of the National

Donnie Virts, a twelfth generation farmer, is the kind of local partner that defines 2018 for the National: Fresh and innovative but also neighborly

“People want to eat fresh, even when they’re not at home. You’d expect to find farm-to-table at a top steakhouse, but not necessarily at a large conference center,” says Donnie. “That makes it such a great surprise for guests of the National. They really savor the quality here.”

Virts, a Loudoun County farmer is supplying the National with his hydroponically-grown produce and Loudoun-raised beef. He’s also a bit of a pioneer, advocating that the best way for Loudoun to grow big business is to stay true to its roots – a philosophy shared by the National. So much so that the conference center buys all that it can from local vendors, from office supplies to wedding favors to tomatoes.

Donnie Virts is an unlikely symbol of progress for the National. In the past few years, they’ve taken a deeper look at who they are, what they are good at, and where they fit into the community. This navel-gazing has uncovered brilliant truths: The National is as relevant as ever, and the good things happening here have built an irreversible momentum.

A wave of energy has brought a local farmer into the fold as a valued partner at the largest hospitality facility, in the largest industry in Loudoun, a county where shining bright has become a bit of an art form.

The National is first and foremost a venue of learning. But with some heavy-hitting industry awards under its belt, it’s clear that training workshops aren’t all that’s being done right here. Hotel of the Year, General Manager of the Year, Tourism Branding, and even wine education are among the accolades – and the stuff of dreams for heavy hitter hotels.

The catalyst for the National’s success is a combination of factors, all with an underlying theme of community. Local efforts established the now-thriving Project SEARCH school-to-work program, hosting ten local students each session. And sparked a relationship with EatLoCo to test the wares of local farmers and food artisans, where Donnie Virts met Chef Todd Goldian.

Giving back wasn’t a strategy but it had massive ROI, as the National gained recognition for doing what they do -but doing it differently. And that started the wheels moving, and momentum building.

Sitting on the first page of 2018’s calendar, the National’s year ahead looks like a target, with the visitor’s experience as its bullseye. Those coming for work, for events, for fun can all expect something special, and likely, something they didn’t imagine.

“Seeing is believing,” says GM, Geoff Lawson.