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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments


Isn't "branding" one of the biggest scams in the world? Consultants make millions convincing communities they can sell the sizzle instead of delivering the steak. The latest suckers in Indiana are in the northwest part of the state:

The Indiana Dunes in Porter County is perhaps the eighth wonder of the world.

That's one of the statements from a working tourism poster that county tourism leaders fashioned with national tourism experts.

After more than a year of planning, Roger Brooks and his team from Seattle-based Destination Development, unveiled logos and taglines for local communities to build on as they embark on a branding effort to draw more visitors and tourism dollars.

[. . .]

Communities ought to highlight their local assets to draw visitors from the dunes, as the primary lure, Brooks said. For example, Valparaiso can capitalize on its downtown and night-life while Kouts embraces a "country living" theme, the experts said. The towns and cities of Porter, Pines, Valparaiso, Portage, Chesterton, Hebron, Kouts and Burns Harbor took part in the assessment.

The Indiana Dunes need no branding, because, well, they're the dunes. Sand and lake and blue sky -- what's not to like? But I'm sure thousands of people, having rested and relaxed at the dunes for a few days, would be restless and bored enough to seek out the awesome "nightlife" of exciting downtown Valparaiso if only they were told it was there. Then, of course, they'd have to recover from that by spending a little time sampling the "country living" of Kouts.

You know what's fun when you go someplace like the dunes? Exploring all the little communities around it, just driving and stopping when you se

Posted in: Hoosier lore


Dennis Saunders
Wed, 07/28/2010 - 7:23pm

Roger Brooks, and his company Destination Development International, is a virtual "con"-fidence artist who has been preying on small unsophisticated cities for decades with his grand, unrealistic ideas and huge consulting fees.

Make no mistake, he's a master at how he does it. Here's Roger Brooks's tried-and-true formula for easily taking thousands of dollars from financially struggling small to medium-sized cities who are desperate for someone, anyone, to help bring tourists and investment to their area:

1). Travel to the client city, 2). Spend a few days in town, walk around and write down names of key attractions, shopping areas and recreational locations to be used in his final presentation, 3). Schedule and host one or more community assessment meetings over several months, 4). And then invite city leaders, local media and towns folk to a "boilerplate" final presentation at which he purposefully goes overboard glowing about all the great things for which they should be proud in their city (who could dislike a flatterer?).

After 30 years of dropping names and the numbers of his past clients (this is repeated numerous times during his presentations), his speech predictably includes the need for that city to have better signage and a logo while stressing the importance of being specific about the reason shoppers and visitors should spend their money there.

His "plans" are typically both ridiculously simplistic (taxpayers can always be expected to loudly voice their displeasure once they found out from local media how much money was spent on his "ideas") and so far-fetched and unrealistic to be laughable.

Finally, after telling them what they already know, Roger Brooks of Destination Development International will then take his huge check (anywhere from $7,000 to $165,000 depending on the city size and budget) and will fly back to Seattle, never to be heard from again....just like the "report" he leaves behind, full of blank pages to create a sense it's more substantial.

Here's a video showing one of his stereotypical phony dog-and-pony shows (look at his body language; the language of a con artist playing up to his audience before he asks them to open their wallets):


He just ripped off the City of Oxnard for $125,000 with his garbage! Here's a link to articles on that fiasco:



Please, small city staffs, stop thinking there's a magic solution to getting commerce and visitors to your downtowns and regions. Throwing money at pie-in-the-sky "consultants" will just put you further behind, not ahead!

P.S. Want to see some hilarious "case studies" from Destination Development International? Visit the "case studies" section of their website at http://www.DestinationDevelopment.com.