Trade Show Guru

For Those Seeking Trade Show Marketing Enlightenment

Trade Show Guru

TradeShow Booth Babes

January 19th, 2010 · 25 Comments · Trade Show Marketing

Some of my regular readers may have noticed that I’ve had a bit of a problem with my blogging regularity lately (translation – I haven’t posted in a while… a long while). No, I didn’t venture to the end of the world and fall off, nor was I abducted by trade show zombies. The Trade Show Guru blog isn’t obsolete… at least not yet. I’ve just been busy with other things – mainly work, but also spending time with my family over the holidays and watching an occasional movie (though I haven’t seen Avatar lately – I’m not that wealthy, at least not yet). But I know I need to make a blog post every now and then to keep this blog at least on life support, so what better topic than tradeshow booth babes.

I know some readers will click through to this post just to see the pictures… and you’re expecting to see barely dressed, sexy women. Well, I don’t want to disappoint, so here is one…

[hot hooters girl]And I don’t want to descriminate against my female readers, so here’s a male “booth babe”…

[hot guy showing off his ads]

OK, now that the obligatory eye-candy “tradeshow booth babe” pictures are out of the way, let me get to the point.

Tradeshow booth babes are a bad idea.

I’m familiar with the saying “sex sells” and maybe if you’re selling Miami-Vice-style cigarette jet boats to middle aged men or cheap beer to college kids, then having a skimpily clad blonde bimbo isn’t an entirely bad idea. But for most tradeshow exhibitors, booth babes are a bad idea. There are much better ways to attract qualified prospects to your tradeshow booth (even handing out trade show giveaways pens is a better idea than having a booth babe).

Having booth babes at your trade show booth will probably draw a crowd… but it will be a crowd of people clogging up your tradeshow booth wanting to see the pretty girl and probably having absolutely no interest in your product, service, or company. And for those people who are interested in your company, they will probably wonder if your product is any good at all if you have to resort to booth babes to try to sell it.

So let your competitors employ the booth babes at their trade show booths. Trust me and make your trade show booth a “booth-babe-free-zone”. Don’t stress if you only have a small portable table top display for your booth. If you’re worried about the size of your display, don’t compensate by using a booth babe. It won’t work (even if you have her dancing on the table and handing out shots ala the movie Coyote Ugly). If you are thinking about hiring a booth babe, look at this picture…

[pucker face image]

This is what a trade show booth babe will most likely do for your trade show marketing efforts, and is the mental image you should get if you seriously a booth babe for your own trade show booth… To repeat, tradeshow booth babes are a bad idea!

But just in case you didn’t get my point, let me show you another mental image to store away in the back of your head in the event you are ever, ever tempted to go the route of hiring a tradeshow booth babe to hawk your tradeshow wares…

[fat ugly guys in speedos image]

Don’t do it. While “tradeshow booth babes” may be ok for a blog post, they are not ok for your tradeshow booth.

Care to disagree?


25 responses so far ↓

  • 1 RT Cunningham // Jan 21, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    I don’t know, Steve. If that booth babe was selling booth babe calendars, I’d be all over it.

  • 2 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 22, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    hi RT,
    You raise a good point. I guess if you’re selling calendars with pretty women on them, then having pretty women (i.e. booth babes) manning (or womanning) your booth may be appropriate. So I guess I should update my post that booth babes are ok for selling jet boats, beer, and girlie calendars… but I think that’s about it.
    Thanks for stopping by! Steve

  • 3 Gomez // Jan 26, 2010 at 10:39 am

    A friend of mine is a photographer who uses one of those photo sharing sites. Most of his stuff never gets viewed, but last week he posted a picture that shows the top of a pair of breasts. Quite frankly, less skin then the girl in your shot here… more a study of curves than anything else. Not pornographic. Not gratuitous. Definitely NOT his best photo… but guess which one has more views than any other?

  • 4 The Trade Show Guru // Jan 26, 2010 at 11:52 am

    hi Gomez,
    I can’t believe you didn’t include a link to the curvy photo… 🙂
    I understand that “sex sells”, and for some trade show exhibits it may be the way to go, but for most I think it is a best a distraction and at worst a liability. The key isn’t to get a whole bunch of drooling guys crowding around your trade show booth trying to get a glimpse of your booth babes… the key is to get qualified prospects that are interested in your product and/or service.
    BTW, I checked out your website and your “Gomez” section of the blog. It looks very entertaining (like the monkey picture with the saying about the windshield and the bug). To my other readers… check it out.
    Thanks for dropping by. Steve

  • 5 James // Jan 27, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    (laughing) – okay, G told me he posted here. Here’s the link to the curvy picture.

  • 6 Tim // Jan 31, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    Hi Steve,
    I guess it depends on what you are selling, like RT said. A beer booth might be expected to have babes, and you might sell more farm equipment or hunting goods too. Or cars, or insurance, or….
    Hey wait a minute. I think I’m saying that I would be more interested in a company using hot chicks as a promotional aid than one that doesn’t 😉

  • 7 The Trade Show Guru // Feb 2, 2010 at 12:21 pm

    Hi Tim,
    While some products might lend themselves to promotion by a booth babe, I’m guessing if you were buying a tractor to plow your fields of malt and barley (for the Blue Beaver) and you had your choice between a powerful yet affordable tractor with no booth babe or an overpriced, underpowered clunker but with a booth babe sitting in the cab smiling (but not included), you’d take the tractor that would get the job done… right? 😀 ~ Steve

  • 8 Will // Feb 6, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Yikes! I will be back to actually read the whole post once my heart rate gets back to near normal. May take a while.

  • 9 Will // Feb 6, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    Your advice makes sense now that I have calmed down enough to actually read it. I do think that your Booth Babe might benefit a booth sponsored by a cosmetic surgeon however.

    That last photo is downright scary.

  • 10 Rudy // Feb 25, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    Sorry… did you write something? I was busy staring at the first photo…

  • 11 Extreme John // Feb 25, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Probably one of the best posts I have seen in a long time, unless your market demands having Booth Babes there is really no benefit to doing it. Your crazy wild car shows and stuff like that, sure why not.

    I certainly wouldn’t market my limousine business booths that we do with half naked men or women.

  • 12 The Trade Show Guru // Feb 26, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    @ Will, the last photo is meant to be scary. Thanks.
    @Rudy, I’m sure you’re not the only person who was “distracted”. 🙂
    @John, I am blushing. Feel free to comment anytime you want to say that one of my posts is “probably one of the best posts I have seen in a long time”. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  • 13 Anne Moss // Feb 26, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Thanks for thinking about us female readers too (and I guess 10% or so of male readers?) That’s so rare to see (and very much appreciated).

    I couldn’t agree more. In fact, I’m no trade show visitor, but any show that has scantly clad wimmin near the products will get me to grab my drooling husband by the elbow and head the other way 😉

  • 14 The Trade Show Guru // Feb 27, 2010 at 12:00 am

    hey Anne,
    I try to keep as many people happy as possible. Glad to see it seems to be working. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by! ~ Steve

  • 15 Anders - Trade Show Infotainer // May 3, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    I agree, booth babes are not classy or even effective when it comes to marketing. Unfortunately, especially in Europe and in some Asian countries it is almost expected.

    If you ask me, it reflect poorly on your company. Again, every company and industry is different, but in most cases you will turn off any female attendees and attract not only unqualified prospects but other sales reps from other booths. I have worked with reps that take breaks just to go talk up some booth models at another booth.

  • 16 The Trade Show Guru // May 4, 2010 at 10:45 am

    hi Anders,
    Thanks for your comment. Your story about reps leaving their booth to go hit on other booth’s booth babes is incredible, and is yet another reason against the traditional stereotypical booth babe. Although as other commentors pointed out, on a few occasions and for a few products and companies booth babes may work, they are usually a bad idea. ~ Steve
    PS. Thanks for adding your insight on Europe and Asia as well!

  • 17 Jack // May 11, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    I think it depends on the show. Can you image a swim suit trade show without real models? It wouldn’t be much of a show, would it?

  • 18 The Trade Show Guru // May 11, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    hi Jack,
    You are right, it depends on what you are selling, as well as who you are selling it to. As I said, for some trade shows, booth babes may make sense (like a swim suit show, as you point out), but for “most” trade shows, they don’t… IMHO. 😀
    Thanks for stopping by. ~ Steve

  • 19 Rick Short // May 12, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    When the topic is NOT beautiful people, then using a “booth babe” is simply demeaning. At our company we respect our professionals far too much to imply that any of them (or their peers) are merely objects – and our staff and audience are far too intelligent to fall for it.

  • 20 The Trade Show Guru // May 12, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    Well put… at best, most (intelligent) prospects won’t fall it, and at worst, they will be offended.
    I know if I was signing an expensive deal, it would depend on the deal itself, and not the cleavage of the person handing me the pen. 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by. ~ Steve

  • 21 Trade Show Booth Models // Aug 31, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    I work for a trade show model staffing company and agree with most of the comments made on this post. However it should be noted that most companies that hire trade show models don’t ask them to wear outfits like the one you see above. The majority of businesses that hire models ask them to wear business attire so that they blend in with their sales staff. Obviously if you’re hiring a booth babe for a UFC expo you will probably have them dressed in sexy outfits, but this is usually an exception to the rule. Most companies hire models to help distribute their promotional materials or get customers to try out their products or take surveys. They have much more success getting attendees walking a trade show floor to do these things when they have an attractive (male/female) booth babe doing the asking opposed to their average Joe sales person. You have to remember that a lot of the “companies” that attend trade shows are very small and might not have the most outgoing people working for them.
    Two other reason companies hire booth models:
    1) Foreign companies (from India and China) hire booth models to act as interpreters.
    2) Companies that exhibit at trade shows across the country hire promotional models because it is cheaper than flying multiple sales staff around (hotels, airfare, rental cars, food etc.)
    So I guess my point is, its true booth babes dressed in sexy outfits are a bad idea for most trade shows, but the majority of the time they just blend in with the rest of the sales staff and do an excellent job at converting potential customers into sales.

  • 22 The Trade Show Guru // Sep 1, 2010 at 10:46 am

    Thanks for the comment. I understand that companies will sometimes hire models who are well trained and professionally dressed, and are also attractive. But if they are professionally dressed, then they really aren’t “booth babes”… they are just attractive professional booth staff.
    I think we both agree that “booth babes” are usually a bad idea, but sometimes work depending on what and where you are exhibiting.
    Thanks for commenting! Steve

  • 23 KrazyFace // Nov 9, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Hahahahaha!!! I was led to this site because I WENT LOOKING for booth babes!!! I’m a 30 year old male that does occasional work for the gaming industry, where (trust me on this) booth babes are a MUST at trade shows and events. There are so many gorgeous female characters from games, that to have them portayed in a more realistic form is for a lot of fans, a big bonus when visiting these shows. I can however understand that putting a scantily clad woman infront of a business booth selling grasscutter engines or windows or what-have-you, is not only insulting to potential customers but demeaning to the woman herself. Nice article.

    PS, Where’d you find that picture of my dad’s synchronised swimming class buddies!?

  • 24 Bruce Jones // Mar 11, 2012 at 11:00 am

    We’re lucky enough to have a few employees that are cute enough to be trade show models so we draw in the traffic with their looks and close the deal with their product knowledge and follow up. When they are “manning” the booth they get twice the leads as us guys, go figure.

  • 25 Trade Show Staffing // Jan 26, 2015 at 5:06 pm

    I am a female who runs a trade show and event staffing agency. I also work as a consultant for 8 companies where I select which shows they will exhibit at, at what level the will be engaging (booth size, etc) and also streamline their event marketing strategy.

    I have seen it all, and I can absolutely agree that having “booth babes” at a professional conference never works. When I first started in 2007, there were some conferences that it seemed to go over OK but in 2015, it cheapens the company.

    I find that most of our clients now also ask for as many male talent to represent them as female talent. While they still look for “attractive” talent, the most important factors when selecting personnel to represent them in their booth are energy, charisma and intelligence.

    The idea now is that you want booth staff that blurs the line between outside hired talent and full-time employee.

    People who are truly professionals at being able to articulate product knowledge in an energizing and fun way (basically contracted sales people) dramatically increase leads. That fact does still remain. An attractive yet intelligent person who knows the product or service they are representing will drum up more business…. but having someone in your booth that is half-dressed awkwardly in a booth in a way that has nothing to do with the product just makes you the laughing stock of the show. (Think CES 2014 — the half naked women dressed as batteries for a booth that had nothing to do with batteries….)

    Although, I must say, I am actually hoping that we can see more booth bros out there – women like eye candy too! But the professional in me knows there is no room for that on the trade room floor. (Ugh!)

    -Farnaz Kermaani

Leave a Comment

  • We welcome all comments. First-time comments are moderated, and will not show up until they have been reviewed and approved. Comments that do not meet the Trade Show Guru's 10 Rules for Enlightened Comments will not be approved.

  • *