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Rendering of CAESARS FORUM Plaza, Las Vegas, NV


But what is it that makes up an ideal learning environment for meetings?


The National Conference Center in Leesburg, VA, an award- winning conference center and one of the nation’s largest training facilities on the East Coast, offers five key factors to consider when searching for the ideal venue for a learning program.


First, the center’s team suggests not to be taken in by things like the latest colors, furniture or lighting at a venue. While these can be fun and exciting, they often don’t play a signifi- cant role in the learning program. Instead, they say planners should look for a facility that offers “blank space” that can serve as a “canvas” to be flexible, moldable and customiz- able to satisfy a program’s dynamic needs.


Second, understand that while all venues have rules, being introduced to a litany of rules during a site visit could be an indicator that the venue may not be the right choice. Look for a venue that offers flexibility along with a “whatever it takes” mentality. Also, take note if the sales and planning team asks questions that relate to the success of the pro- gram, not just what is convenient for them.


Third, when it comes to experiential learning, or learning by doing, be sure the venue provides versatile spaces that can handle a variety of activities, from adventure team building on a challenge course to hands-on activities to role-playing scenarios.


Next, if a specific theme is chosen for a program, select a venue that’s eager to build on and reinforce the theme throughout the entire program, from refreshment breaks to inventive receptions and innovative lighting, audio, visual, décor, and even costumes that can be integrated.


3­ 8 September­z October­2018


Finally, they stress that food matters at every event. Many small venues have 5-star restaurants, while large conference centers often have a group dining food and beverage pro- gram. They say to look for a venue that works with local and regional purveyors and farmers to provide the best quality, freshest food available that was obtained via sustainable farming methods. This, together with a talented culinary team, will help provide a superb dining experience for any group - even a large-scale program.


One venue that offers not only great food and beverage as well as a dedicated meeting environment, but a truly unique history and backdrop to go along with an outstanding sup- port staff is Normandy Farm Hotel and Conference Center in Blue Bell, PA.


According to Karen R. Mandel, the property’s senior busi- ness development manager, "Normandy Farm has a superior reputation for serving the finest farm-to-table menu in the region. Our culinary team meets with procurement on a daily basis to source local ingredients that are fresh and healthy, while supporting our local farm community. Special dietary menus have been designed to meet the needs of all alternative lifestyles, including: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut allergy, and more."


When it comes to the support staff at Normandy Farm, Mandel asserts that saying they operate as a well-oiled machine would be an understatement. “Our tenured team of professionals are experienced in all facets of the hospitality and meetings industry, and we support our clients to ensure that their meetings are customized, maximized, and budget wise.”


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