Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Booth Babes Are Distractions

Whenever I attend a trade show, there's guaranteed to be one or more booths with "booth babes," who are local models or actresses hired to dress provocatively and stand in an exhibitor's booth. Why are they there?

Presumably, booth babes attract prospects to the booth. In reality, they attract suspects... people suspected of being buyers, but who come to the booth to look at the booth babes, not to buy.

As a rule, booth babes hurt exhibitors. Real prospects are looking for information. Booth babes and the people they attract simply get in the way, driving prospects to go away.

Some prospects will avoid the booth simply because they don't want anyone to even think they are attracted by the booth babes. This is especially true if the prospect is male and attending the show with a spouse.

Visiting a booth with booth babes conflicts with the value system of others. Seriously, I've heard plumbers complain openly about a woman "on display" at a plumbing show. And the plumbers who were complaining ran large companies. They were the heavy hitters every exhibitor wanted.

Another issue with booth babes is the effect on an exhibitor's staff. I've seen the staff focused on the booth babe rather than the prospects.

Face it. Booth babes are a distraction. They may attract a crowd, but not the right crowd. Ditto for celebrities or a hot sports car, which is the mechanical equivalent of a booth babe (unless the car is being given away at the show).

There are exceptions. The exceptions are when the booth babe is part of a live marketing program that reinforces the message of the booth. An example is the cave woman hired by Juan Cardona (JC Heating and Cooling in Crossroads, WV) who pops out of a cave he creates to reinforce the Jurassic air conditioner theme, encouraging homeowners to register for his oldest air conditioner contest. Click here to download a free turnkey oldest appliance kit from the Service Roundtable.

Probably the worst  aspect of using a booth babe as eye candy is the messages the exhibitor sends without realizing it...

  • "I have nothing interesting to offer so I'm using a booth babe to drive traffic."

  • "I think so little of my prospects' intelligence, character, and motivation that I believe a booth babe will drive sales."

Whether at a trade show or a home show, booth babes are distractions.


  1. I agree Matt, from a business perspective, booth babes are not efficient. Or are they?

    Let's pretend that booth babes really had something to, ahemmm, offer.

    Imagine if your company was the booth babe. Imagine if your company placed itself in such a position as to be noticed - like a booth babe is noticed. Of course the journey for your company to travel on its way to booth babe status is where it really gets fun.

    Speaking of eye candy. Is it just me or did it seem like every other type A executive at the show had a hot admin assistant following them around like a puppy dog with a notepad?

  2. Booth babes attract people interested in booth babes. At a show, I want to attract people interested in the solutions and help I offer to the problems and opportunities they face.

    If you want to convey a professional image, your booth staff should reflect it.

  3. With the sheer volume of information that is hurled at a tradeshow attendee as they walk the aisle, sometimes they have no idea that they are interested in the solutions and help you offer to the problems and opportunities they face. They may be distracted from your message by something going on somewhere else, and a booth babe might just be what brings their attention back long enough for them to take a second look at your display and realize they need to speak with you.

    That being said, I'm not a proponent of booth babes; as a tradeshow magician, I believe that what I do does far more for the booth than what busty models offer. (1) Unlike a model, who is there solely to attract attention, my act attracts attention AND delivers the exhibitor's marketing message. (2) Models are great for attracting men who like to look at pretty girls, but what about everyone else???

    There are plenty of attention-getting techniques which, like models, attract much unneeded attention.

    In an ad piece I sent to potential clients, I used this pitch:

    Raffle prize giveaways
    bring in business cards you'll throwaway.

    And free candy
    attracts free loaders.

    Got Magic?

    - Avi Frier