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Three questions for destination development expert Roger Brooks


I caught up with destination guru, Roger Brooks, in Deadwood, South Dakota while he was working on a city assessment project.  There was just enough time to pry three questions out of him before he was off to do a webinar and then prep for a town hall meeting.  At age 60, he’s still going strong.

Q: How many of these city “undercover tourist” assessments have you done so far?  

About 800 communities around the world over the last 20 years.

Q: Can you give an example of a development project  are you particularly proud of? 
I’m really pleased with the way the ski town of Whistler turned out… I did that back in the early 80s. It has been the top-rated ski destination in North America just about every year since we completed it. But more recently, I’m really happy with the way downtown Rapid City, South Dakota turned out — a project we started in about 2009 and was completed in 2011. We turned a 60-space parking lot into a place that hosts hundreds of thousands of people a year and made the downtown a real attraction.  We put in a plaza — creating a central gathering place for the residents, and the visitors followed. I remember seeing a young woman take a photo of the plaza on Monday movie night and put it up on Facebook with the caption:  ”i grew up in Rapid City  and it was never as cool as it is now.”
rapid city

Q: What are 5 things that just about every small town needs help with?

1. A narrow focus
2. A pedestrian friendly shopping, dining and entertainment area.
3. Beautification
4. Creating central gathering places.
5. Decent signage for local merchants and wayfinding.

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