Tourism’s leading lady in research, customer service

Dee Ann McKinney poses in the Truman Building atrium.

Dee Ann McKinney poses in the Truman Building atrium. Photo by Julie Smith.

Dee Ann McKinney said she is blessed to have worked in her field for her entire career.

As research manager for the Missouri Division of Tourism, McKinney not only manages the research program, but also manages the customer service aspect of the department.

“I do a lot of consumer research, researching what travelers have done in the past,” she said. “Also, part of my job is helping communities.”

She said many smaller communities in the state don’t have a marketing manager, so she helps them with promoting tourism in their areas.

After working for the state’s Division of Tourism for 15 years, including nearly 12 years in her current position, she’s become known at work as the “answer lady.”

She was honored during State Employee Recognition Week last week with a 2013 Missouri State Employee Award of Distinction for her public service in her role at the division.

“It’s really overwhelming,” McKinney said. “Out of thousands of state employees, they chose me?”

McKinney was born and raised in Crystal City and attended Missouri State University in Springfield. She has worked in newspaper advertising, cable television, for the Yellow Pages, a national magazine and an advertising agency in St. Louis.

She lived out-of-state for a while, but said she missed Missouri.

She now lives in Jefferson City with her 22-year-old daughter and Pomeranian.

He favorite part of her job is the people.

“Not just the staff and the division,” she said. “The people in the industry. Missouri tourism has got the best people.”

McKinney is a former chairman of the Travel and Tourism Research Association’s (TTRA) board. TTRA is a nonprofit that seeks to “enhance the quality, value, effectiveness and use of research in travel marketing, planning and development.”

“My great deal of work with that has gotten Missouri’s name out there,” she said.

She’s also a co-chairwoman of a listserv of research directors.

Outside of the Division of Tourism, McKinney is a co-chairwoman of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church’s outreach ministry. She also helps organize an annual golf tournament for Special Olympics Missouri, as well as volunteers with the Salvation Army and other organizations.

“I was raised that way,” McKinney said. “I learned young that you give back.”

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