Example Of The Flora-Bama: Bringing The Past Into The Future Essay

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Internet, Events, Lounge, Customers, Business, Website, Beach, Family

Pages: 10

Words: 2750

Published: 2020/11/10

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Executive Summary
“There’s just no other place in the world like it” (Isern, 2014).
During the past fifty years, the Flora-Bama Lounge and Package Store has transitioned from a small bar alongside the newly built road on a secluded beach into a brand known world-wide. Even though the surrounding area has become a major tourist destination, in so many ways, the Flora-Bama has remained the same.
The original owner showcased talent, providing musicians a venue in which to play in a location where there were very few options. It rapidly became the place where everyone wanted to perform. Jimmy Buffet wrote a song, Bama Breeze, about it and mentioned it while on stage while performing a concert in New York City (Josh, 2007).
Ownership has changed numerous times by bringing in a friend into the business, taking time to train, and slowly cede ownership over a period of time. The seamless transitions served to reduce the impact of the changes to the regular customers even though each ownership change caused subsequent change. These changes came in the form of expansion and concerts on the beach. The Flora-Bama was establishing itself as the place to party on the beach. Special events contributed to that. The annual Mullet Toss became the Running of the Bulls of Perdido Key (Moon, 2014) and yet the Flora-Bama remained the same. While the use of the Internet has not been a major aspect of daily operations at the Flora-Bama, that is soon to change. With proper planning, design, implementation, and installation, this can be a seamless transition as well.

Introduction

The Mission Statement of the Flora-Bama Lounge and Package Store is “To always be responsive and sensitive to the human dignity of others. To grant equal respect to all who enter the Flora-Bama, expecting the same in return. To ensure our guests enjoy the magic of the Flora-Bama, leave safe and happy and come to visit us again with new friends” (Anon., n.d.).
The Flora-Bama, established in 1962, is located on the state line that separates Florida and Alabama. This location is on the white sand beaches along the Gulf of Mexico in an area that experiences high tourism, especially during the spring and summer, but visitors are common during the off-season as well. The Flora-Bama was originally opened as a lounge and package store. The business soon became an attraction and attracted a wide variety of customers.
In 1978, the Flora-Bama expanded to provide live music and a pool room. The addition of the stage soon became a spot of interest for a variety of musicians, which led to the creation of an annual event known as the Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival. It quickly earned a reputation as being a place featuring great music and a wonderful atmosphere and continues to strive to uphold this image. (Flora-Bama, n.d.).
In 1979, a major hurricane named Frederick wreaked havoc on the area and preceded a massive growth in the real estate market, which began in 1984. The tourism industry rapidly expanded as high-rise condominiums were built throughout Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Perdido Key in Alabama and Florida. In 1984, the Flora-Bama experienced further growth as well and yet, the Flora-Bama remained the same (Flora-Bama, n.d.).
In 1986, the list of annual events grew. The Songwriters’ Festival was joined by events such as the Mullet Toss, which continues to be a popular annual event that attracts thousands. Each event is designed to benefit the area through donations to charities and organizations to benefit children in the area. Regardless of the cause supported, these events quickly reached legendary status and rapidly attracted more participants. The Events Calendar expands regularly, adding annual, weekly, daily, and special events (Flora-Bama, n.d.).
As popularity and business increased, the Flora-Bama did as well. In 2011, the deck and top deck areas of the Lounge were rebuilt and expanded. The Flora-Bama Yacht Club opened across the street alongside the Flora-Bama Package Store. These businesses are owned and operated by Flora-Bama Management, LLC, as well as the Flora-Bama Marina. The primary business at the original Flora-Bama continues to be a lounge, featuring live performances nightly and offers food items that include fresh seafood and burgers. The Flora-Bama Yacht Club is located on Ole River and serves primarily as an open-air restaurant and offers catering (Anon, n.d.). The Flora-Bama Liquor Store sells liquor and lottery tickets (Anon., n.d.). The primary business of the Marina is charter fishing excursions and equipment rental for water sports [Anon., n.d.]. Children and young adults are welcome at both the Lounge and the Yacht Club; however, they have to leave the Lounge by 6 PM CST daily. Most of the special events are family friendly as many of these are held on the beach.
All businesses operated under the Flora-Bama trademark operate web pages primarily to provide information, including location, hours of operation, contact information, and employment opportunities. The website for the Flora-Bama Lounge also includes options for souvenirs and other gift shop offerings.

Analysis

Even though the original strategic plan for the Flora-Bama has been achieved and exceeded, the plan continues to expand. By applying the standards detailed by Porter’s Five Forces Analysis, a firm, cohesive strategic plan will ensure success for the Flora-Bama and all associated brands well into the future.
The first standard is to understand the power of the suppliers. The primary suppliers for all locations are varied and include food and beverage suppliers, merchandise suppliers, Internet services suppliers, fuel providers, and watercraft providers. The power in this instance lies with the Flora-Bama as the quantities necessary to ensure all locations are well stocked is well established. Vendors are willing to offer the lowest possible prices as the consistent volume needed exists (MindTools, 2015).
The second standard is to recognize the power of the buyer. The buyers in this instance are the customers. With a widely varied demographic, it would be easy to alienate any specific group. Once the planned expansions are fully in place, this will reduce that possibility (MindTools, 2015).
The third standard is to develop an understanding of the rivalry competition presents. In this case, the reputation of the Flora-Bama reduces this impact. In order for competition to lessen the customer base of the Flora-Bama, other establishments in the area would have to develop the ability to consistently attract the volumes of business (MindTools, 2015).
The threat of substitution is the fourth standard to apply. The primary threat of substation would occur if other venues have the means and ability to attract more popular acts; however, this threat is minimized due to the reputation of the Flora-Bama being musician-friendly, which makes musicians welcome the opportunity to perform there (MindTools, 2015).
The final standard to take into consideration is the threat of new entry. As is common in resort areas, many will attempt to replicate the successful businesses in that location. As tourism increases, the available offerings also increase. This threat is minimal as others have consistently tried to provide the same offerings and atmosphere as the Flora-Bama, but none have been able to succeed (MindTools, 2015).
The current strategic plan is to continue to promote the Flora-Bama’s trademarked brand, expand the web pages for each location, increase the events held on-site, and continue to support local organizations and charities. Marketing plans include adding the Flora-Bama logo to additional merchandise which currently includes baseball caps, clothing, Christmas ornaments, beverage containers, books and music, as well as limited consumables, such as hot sauce and bloody Mary mix, miscellaneous items, such as magnets and pens, and beach gear, such as towels and coolers. The revised plan expands this area to add additional clothing to the T-shirts, jackets, and sweat pants to include event-themed T-shirts for the more established events, shorts, and swim wear. The edibles line will also be expanded to include specialty seafood seasonings and drink mixes, including the Mullet Margarita. The current plan calls for the introduction of new merchandise in intervals of six to nine months in an effort to triple the available items within three years.
Plans to expand the websites for each location include adding daily specials, blogs to each site to support a blog of the day feature. This blog will be maintained by the regular staff of each location. The Lounge and Yacht Club will also allow performers the opportunity to post guest blogs. There are also plans to allow customer feedback on each site and will require user registration and validation. The website for the Lounge will be expanded to include video clips of previous events, such as the Mullet Toss, and promote future events, and add a site-specific beach cam to offer views of the deck, top deck, the beach, and the Gulf of Mexico in the immediate area. The website for the Yacht Club will also be expanded to provide video of the performers who appear on weekends when entertainment is featured; however, these clips will be shorter and not full-length. The Yacht Club will also add a feature for registration, validation, and payment processing to place carry out orders on line. The Marina’s website will be expanded to include current and future water conditions, tide information, and current and future weather. Video clips will also be added, with the content focused on water sports and fishing excursions. This will be similar to a highlight reel to demonstrate options for fun in the sun and on the water. The website for the Package Store will feature daily specials that are available only through the web page and will include an option to place orders for large or uncommon orders, dependent on availability. The ordering option will require registration, verification, and payment processing. Tags will be added to each website to enhance search engine optimization (SEO). All additions and upgrades detailed in this section will be completed within three years.
As the demographics continue to widen and the Lounge continues to attract visitors of all ages, all locations will become Wi-Fi hotspots for their guests to use. As people become more dependent on their devices, and customers spend a large amount of time on the beach, this will be provided at no charge. Theoretically, this will increase customer traffic as current customers can post their experiences instantly and others come to enjoy the fun. If others are unable to attend that particular event, it will further propel the reputation as the place to party on the beach and compel them to visit at a later date. This feature will be in place by May.
Currently, banking is the primary function of the Internet for the back office. This area of operations will expand and transition to cloud storage instead of server storage to enhance the current disaster recovery plan and ensure records are safe and current in the event of hurricane activity. Daily operations will also move to the cloud, including credit card processing, and the register and payment transactions. All current point-of-sale (POS) terminals will be replaced to accommodate Internet processing. Inventory transactions, including ordering and payments, will be processed immediately via the Internet. Banking will be expanded beyond payroll processing to include online bill payment. The anticipated completion date for this phase will be completed within six months from today.
The events hosted by the Flora-Bama increase tourism in the area, which increases volume for other businesses in the Gulf Shores-Orange Bay-Perdido Key-Pensacola area. Currently, there are nineteen scheduled events throughout the year. The goal is to expand the annual events to an average of two a month. Potential scheduling conflicts are to be minimized by hosting certain events, such as the Fishing Rodeo, with another event featuring live music. The additional events will commence during the next calendar year as acts are booked. These events do not require expansion and will take place on the beach.
The Flora-Bama family will continue to donate time and money from proceeds of the events to local youth programs and charities. This practice will expand and more recipients will be added as more events are added. A primary goal is to continue to give and increase these donations back to the local communities.

Conclusion

The Flora-Bama is well established and is known world-wide for support for musicians and being a premier place to showcase talent in a more relaxed setting; however, as the Gulf Shores-Orange Beach-Perdido Key-Pensacola area continues to grow, competition for the Flora-Bama family also continues to grow. Bars, restaurants, and marinas are constantly bought and sold, bringing changes that often lead to establishments closing. With hundreds of options in each category and ever-changing businesses, competition can be fierce.
Numerous businesses of all types in that area are seasonal and close during the winter months, which is the off-season. The Flora-Bama businesses are open year-round, which increases the profit margin. The Flora-Bama does have a competitive edge because it is a very established business, with a strong brand, and presents its own unique customer experience.
Even though many new venues are being established offering events similar to the Lounge, the functions sponsored by the Flora-Bama are unique to the venue and cannot be replicated. This includes concerts and competitions. A competition such as the Mullet Toss would not succeed in a different venue. It truly belongs to the Flora-Bama. At this time, the Lounge continues to be a popular location, yet this could change as time progresses. To reduce the impact competition could have on the Lounge, continued perseverance in booking top events, such as country musician Kenny Chesney’s album release party, must continue. Strive to bring in better known acts with established fan bases. Feature drink specials with drinks that were created specifically for the Lounge will attract a certain demographic. As the customer base is widely spread, special events could be focus on certain demographics as well as genres. Upgrade the food offerings by improving the quality of the ingredients used while maintaining more reasonable costs to the customers. The Lounge is by far the most popular entity of the Flora-Bama family and a large part of the popularity is the legend behind the brand. It is known for providing the best parties on the Gulf Coast and that is the primary reason people visit.
The Yacht Club and Marina both face more competition as these two are not as widely known. The name “Flora-Bama” is immediately associated with the Lounge as these are newer entities. This prevents many from visiting either establishment as parents are unwilling to take their children to a bar and will pursue other options for dining and activities. Internet marketing will help boost the visibility for both, especially with updated, effective SEO in place. Instead of returning results for the competitors in the area ahead of the Flora-Bama offerings, optimization will place the Yacht Club and the Marina closer to the top of the results from generic searches.
The Yacht Club offers a more specialized menu while presenting a range of choices from casual to the not-so- casual and this variety needs to be showcased as a family friendly dining experience. Activities for children should also be advertised. In an area with numerous family-friendly offerings, this will attract the interest of families and adults while distinguishing it from the Lounge and establish it as being a part of the brand while being a separate entity.
The Marina is also closely associated with the Lounge and many would assume that all three are the same, especially since they are located in the same vicinity. Special events, such as fishing tournaments, attract customers and deep sea fishing is part of the beach vacation experience. With proper exposure, the Marina can become a major participant in the pleasure and competition fishing markets.
The Gift Shop is a unique market and has no competition. The merchandise sold there is branded with the Flora-Bama logo and is only available through both the brick and mortar store front and online via the Lounge’s website. As the product line increases, Internet sales will also increase.
All employees will receive training throughout the process of fully integrating the Flora-Bama into the age of the Internet. This will be an on-going process to ensure a smooth transition. Additional training concerning how to post blogs and update the websites will be provided for employees who show in interest in performing those duties and will be subjected to the approval of management.
The association with the Flora-Bama brand ensures that suppliers will be reliable and consistent as the Lounge has served as a tourist attraction due in part to its longevity, especially among adults. The volume of business for suppliers generated by the Lounge ensures competition among vendors as the Flora-Bama is fully established as a dependable customer.
The primary factor that has the ability of negatively affecting business lies within the employees. When customers have a enjoyable experience, whether it is while enjoying a band while dancing in the sand or a delicious meal or sailing across the waves, the attitudes of the employees can make the experience less pleasurable. Customers should be encouraged to share their experiences whether on their Facebook wall or travel sites. The options are endless. The service industry also has a high turnover rate among employees and several of these will move from job to job. These individuals have the capability to have a customer base that follows them. This could lead to an increase or decrease in business for the Restaurant and Marina; the effect would be minimal for the Lounge due to the high volume it already experiences; however, by providing employees with additional opportunities provided by the expansion of the websites.
In conclusion, the various entities operated under the Flora-Bama brand have the potential for success due to the association with the brand. By expanding the attractions, such as increasing the number of special events, and allowing the employees to develop a more fully vested interest in areas of operations for all locations will allow the Flora-Bama to once again exceed expectations.
Utilizing the Internet and maximizing the potential of SEO, all entities will receive more visitors. The Internet provides a method of reaching millions of potential customers and website improvements will assist in that area. Making the move from computer servers to cloud based services ensures a cohesive disaster recovery plan and transitioning to Internet-based POS systems will ensure a higher degree of accuracy and increase the speed of transactions. Adding a Wi-Fi hotspot will help to ensure the younger demographic will visit and feel as if they are being catered to.
Even with the expanded use of technology being introduced, the Flora-Bama will remain the same.

References

Isern, W., 01 August 2014. Flora-Bama celebrates 50 years. [online] Available at <http://www.pnj.com/story/news/2014/08/01/flora-bama-turns/13496245/> [Accessed 02 February 2015].
Josh, 27 September 2007. Article on Buffet honoring Flora-Bama owner. [online] Available at <http://www.buffettworld.com/2007/09/27/article-on-buffett-honoring-flora-bama-owner/> [Accessed on 11 February 2015].
Moon, T., 28 April 2014, ICYMI: Flora-Bama mullet toss brings strange sites.[online] Available at < http://www.pnj.com/story/news/2014/04/26/flora-bama-mullet-toss-brings-strange-sights/8239031/> [Accessed on 11 February 2015].
Anon., n.d. florabama. [online] Available at <http://www.florabama.com/about> [Accessed 09 February 2015].
Flora-Bama, n.d. Flora-Bama history. [online] Available at <http://www.gulfshores.com/media/media-kit/mediakit/media-kit-detail.aspx?id=88> [Accessed 09 February 2015].
Flora-Bama, n.d. Flora-Bama history. [online] Available at <http://www.gulfshores.com/media/media-kit/mediakit/media-kit-detail.aspx?id=88> [Accessed 09 February 2015].
Anon., n.d. florabama. [online] <Available at http://www.florabamayachtclub.com/> [Accessed 09 February 2015].
Anon., n.d. florabama. [online] Available at <http://www.florabamaliquorlotto.com/> [Accessed 09 February 2015].
Anon., n.d. florabama. [online] Available at <http://www.fishflorabama.com/marina-watersports> [Accessed 09 February 2015].
MindTools, 2015, Porter’s five forces: Assessing the balance of power in a business situation. [online] Available at < http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_08.htm> [Accessed on 11 February 2015].
MindTools, 2015, Porter’s five forces: Assessing the balance of power in a business situation. [online] Available at < http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_08.htm> [Accessed on 11 February 2015].
MindTools, 2015, Porter’s five forces: Assessing the balance of power in a business situation. [online] Available at < http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_08.htm> [Accessed on 11 February 2015].
MindTools, 2015, Porter’s five forces: Assessing the balance of power in a business situation. [online] Available at < http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_08.htm> [Accessed on 11 February 2015].
MindTools, 2015, Porter’s five forces: Assessing the balance of power in a business situation. [online] Available at < http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newTMC_08.htm> [Accessed on 11 February 2015].

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