Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Working on the First Coast; from Stocks and Annuities to Travel and Beer Business Ex-Stockbroker Plans Football Tours and Parties

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Working on the First Coast; from Stocks and Annuities to Travel and Beer Business Ex-Stockbroker Plans Football Tours and Parties

Article excerpt

Byline: Roger Bull

Bill Tabone spent much of his career as a stockbroker and financial wholesaler. He lost his job in the recession but has bounded back with Play Harder Tours, a business revolving around parties, travel and beer. He explained how he's managed to pull that off.

So where did this come from?

When I was with Protective Life, I'd travel around a particular territory talking to stockbrokers about insurance and annuities. And I'd do broker trips. If we had Raymond James brokers coming into Tampa, I'd set up a Rays game. I really enjoyed that side of it.

When I found myself out of a job, I looked back and remembered that people always complained about the stock market. But no one ever complained about having a good time, about going out and drinking a beer.

So I made that my goal and developed a business plan.

What were the first steps?

I had a friend of mine in the neighborhood involved with event planning. I told her what I wanted to do and she gave me advice. You've got groundwork you have to lay first. I hired an attorney to draw up the corporate work. I had to be licensed, bonded with the state as a vendor of travel; had to make contacts.

Do they all include beer?

Ninety-nine percent do. We'll include sporting events, music events, we've had festivals included in the trip. But the bottom line is that we have a common interest in beer. The category is beer-centric travel, and there's not many of us doing it.

What did you do correctly from the beginning?

I believe that you have to hire people who know the story of where you're going. I'm leaving for Portland and Seattle on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for future trips. So I'll take the tours and ultimately, they'll be our partners.

What did you do wrong?

Marketing? I spent a lot of money with the Chicago Tribune and Detroit News doing digital advertising on the sports page. But I was too broad. With the type of audience I'm looking for, I have to be more specific. I needed to focus on Bears fans.

Are these parties in town, tours out of town, or what?

Everything. I'll do parties for people in town, I'll bring people to Jacksonville, we do other tours. …

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