Cell phones and Blackberries (wireless PDAs) aren't welcome at the National Conference Center, and there are no plans to change that.

“People complain about it all the time, but we don't do anything about it,” says Bruce McIntosh, vice president and general manager of the Landowne, Va., facility. The people complaining are the attendees, but the corporate bosses like the arrangement. “Everybody knows you have a more effective result if people aren't thinking about other things,” McIntosh explains.

And by the end of a weeklong meeting, attendees are used to being cut off from some of their normal lines of communication. (The isolation isn't total; T1 lines are installed in all the guest rooms and meeting rooms). “People drag themselves in here on a Sunday, and they're miserable,” McIntosh says. “They say, ‘I have a pile of work on my desk, but I was mandated to come here.’” But after a week of meetings and nightly social events, “these people have bonded, and they're the happiest people in the world when they leave on Friday.”