Sheraton Hopes to Impress Clients in 'Training Camp'

San Diego County Business Editor

The Super Bowl is more than just a game to Sheraton Corp.

The event has presented the hotelier with an opportunity to win the hearts and minds of some of its most important clients: corporate convention customers. In seizing that opportunity, Sheraton has become just one of dozens of corporations using the Super Bowl's entertainment value to promote its business.

Sheraton is inviting 30 of its most important convention clients, including convention planners at Digital Equipment Corp., Gartner Group, the United Auto Workers union, and the Association for Governing Boards, to a four-day, non-stop party binge capped by tickets to the Super Bowl on Sunday, all at Sheraton's expense.

Cost of 4-Day Bash Put at $75,000

Tom Bewley, director of sales and promotion at Sheraton Harbor Island, estimated the cost of the four-day bash at $75,000, a small expense compared to the revenue represented by the thousands of hotel guests those clients send Sheraton's way each year. The invitees' spouses, however, were not invited.

The theme for the four-day binge is "Sheraton's NFL Training Camp," and true to the theme, the 30 guests will be issued jerseys and other memorabilia tonight, the night of their arrival. They will also be guests at a lavish dinner-reception at the hotel that night, Bewley said.

On Friday, the 30 invitees will join top Sheraton brass in a private golf and tennis tournament at Singing Hills country club in El Cajon, then have dinner at the Sheraton before attending the Frank Sinatra-Liza Minnelli concert at the Sports Arena that night.

Cruise With Raiders Quarterback Plunkett

A breakfast cruise around San Diego Bay with Los Angeles Raiders quarterback Jim Plunkett is on the guests' agenda for Saturday morning, during which Plunkett will discuss the upcoming game and sign autographs. That night, the group will attend a party put on by NFL Properties, the league's arm in charge of licensing and advertising.

On Sunday, Sheraton's guests will attend a tailgate party before being bused to the Super Bowl. A buffet dinner back at the Sheraton Harbor Island awaits them after the game.

On Monday, the guests will fly home, their perceptions of Sheraton forever enhanced, or so the hotel chain hopes.

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