On Tuesday, May 17 the Heber Valley Office of Tourism and Economic Development brought in tourism and branding expert Roger Brooks of Brooks International to speak to our tourism, civic, and business leaders on how to better collaborate to make Heber Valley a premiere travel destination.
Brooks has had tremendous success in helping hundreds of communities throughout the U.S. create their destination identity and brand.
He spoke on several different themes during his time in the Heber Valley including successful tourism industry standards, creating spaces where people want to gather, and building a strong lasting brand.
During his presentation to tourism partners Brooks identified growing trends in travel especially among Millennials, which has now become the largest demographic in US history. He said most millennials are looking for “out of car, pedestrian friendly experiences,” and emphasizing visitors want to hang out where the locals hang out.
Additionally, he identified at seven key principles that successful tourism destinations have:
After speaking with the tourism partners, Brooks spoke to about a dozen or so city and county leaders including council persons and city administration. Brooks once again hit on the economic importance of creating a central place or a downtown for people to gather. Research has shown that 80 percent of all non-lodging travel related purchases are made in a downtown or central gathering places.
Creating a successful downtown area takes the cooperation between property owners, the public sector, merchants. Projects like these can start small even with just one block, but will take the three groups working together to implement the ideas.
Finally, Brooks spoke to the business leaders and owners during the chamber lunch about branding Heber Valley. He encouraged those present to find the valley’s unique position that will help us stand out among the many great activities and destinations in Utah. Brooks noted that a brand is what people perceive about you not what you tell them; the brand has to be different from everyone else; and the destination needs to own it, meaning fully embrace that brand concept.
Books also gave the chamber members several ideas on how they could improve their business with partnerships, public relations strategies, and improving internet presence.
“Our office is always striving to make tourism an even stronger driver for our local economy and by bring in Roger Brooks to help inspire and motivate our community, we know that great things are beginning to happen in the Heber Valley,” said Ryan Starks, executive director of Heber Valley Tourism.