Booth Babes Bad For Business, Experiment Shows

A marketer got 2 booths at the same show, one with 'booth babes', the others with 'grandmas'. The grandmas beat the booth babes, delivering twice the number of leads and three times the amount of foot traffic. If you are looking for evidence of why not to use booth babes, this experiment review is for you.

The marketer's theory for why the booth babes did worse was that:

  • Booth babes are intimidating (e.g., "guys [tend] to be a little nervous around hot girls. The ones that had no trouble engaging our booth babes were always the overconfident weirdos").
  • Booth babes are lazy - in comparison to a car show where they are just paid to show up and smile, at a tech event, they need to engage and educate on niche technical issues (this was a SAP show so even more boring technical than surveillance).
  • Grandmas are helpful - They were "more than happy to engage in small talk outside the booth, establish rapport, and make great local restaurant recommendations to our prospects before introducing them to one of our reps."
  • "If you’re an exec, you’re looking for your peer at the booth and are not bothering with the booth babes."
  • Attracts low quality leads - "the ones that the booth babes had no trouble attracting were often low-level, overconfident IT nubs"

On the other hand, this is for one company's product at one show and the marketer clearly was philosophically opposed to using booth babes (as am I).

By the way, the most controversial article on IPVM last year was clearly our critique of ISC booth babes.

I tend to think worse of a manufacturer who uses booth babes, even though I am a salesman who understands the value of marketing and attracting attention and et cetera. There's nothing wrong with being flashy and adding some razzle-dazzle to your pitch- stop laughing, sometimes a bit of showmanship is the difference between making the sale and going hungry- but there has to be a limit.

Besides, sizzle is nice but you've got to be able to produce a steak eventually. In my experience, booth babes tend to be hired by companies that aren't very substantive themselves.

"In my experience, booth babes tend to be hired by companies that aren't very substantive themselves."

Mine too. And I suspect that, for those companies, having booth babes is a net positive because otherwise there would not be much reason for anyone to talk to such companies.

For a control, he should have mixed it up and have one of each (booth babe and grandma) at each booth for a day - hottie to draw them in, granny to close the sale?

I wish we had a downvote button for this...

Well, seriously... such an experiment is fine and dandy and "proves" your point nicely if you're against the idea to begin with, but without a control of some kind, it's not really statistically valid.

Notwithstanding that, my reply was mainly tongue-in-cheek. ;)

I figured that! but I was also tongue-in-cheek responding to your comment in an other discussion about looking for an up vote button!

Btw, the other thing that makes this experiment questionable is that it only involved a single company. Maybe that company does not benefit from booth babes, but other companies with different products, competitive positioning, customers, etc. could.

I was thinking the same thing...

The ol' good babe, bad babe routine?

This is true - booth babes are no doubt a much more "successful" feature at things like car shows...

Matt - Since we're being cheeky, I'll butt in and add my 2 cents. ;)

The test hypothesis was "Booth babes don't improve business results" and he had the previous show's results where they used booth babes as data to test this against.

Now, if you look at the scientific definition of a control group, he actually did have one - the booth with the babes - which replicated the previous show's environment. His experimental group was the second booth where they hired the 'grandmas'.

With his experiment, he was able to determine the booth with the babes resulted in approximately the same outcome at the booth with the babes at the previous show and that the booth where they had people who were actually interested in taking care of potential customers comparatively gave much better results, proving his hypothesis.

Calling all Booth Babe Boosters!

How can it be that in the all talk here and in the comprehensive 2013 IPVM Guide to Booth Babes , there are few if any actual proponents of BBs???

And I don't mean the guy who barely makes a stand with the standard "I think they are fine, whatever. They are adults. It's a free country" always to be followed by the negating "Of course they do nothing for me personally..."

Somebody to take a stand and say something like:

"Yeah, I like 'em. They are about the only reason I even go to these dumb shows. I don't know what the big deal is anyway, I don't see you eco-feminist guys turning down the free Perrier at the Milestone Booth, for me its the same thing and I drink the water too"


"I'm a Man I'm not ashamed of it, you guys would do the same thing if you weren't worried about your "reputation" and your image with your peers. Anyway I've been out with most of you anyway, away from the hall, down at some seedy joint after midnight, bombed out your mind, folding dollar bills in between girls toes. What's the difference?"

But sadly no one does, yet they must exist because companies don't have extra money for something percieved as a negative unless there were some tangible benefits. Screw the study! I'm sure there are plenty of cases out there where Vendor A has BB, Vendor A stops having BB, Vendor A gets BB back! Why? Lets hear from them too!

As for me though, I should state for the record that it can be a tawdry and denigrating experience for both Babe and Booster alike and I think it to be despicable, SATIRICAL COMMENT DEALING WITH HYPOCRISY HAS BEEN DEEMED OFFENSIVE AND REMOVED BY CD.

I think the BB thing is very slimey and I would likely say something to any of the manufacturers I do business with if they had them. I am not a prude, I like looking at a pretty lady as much as the next guy but they bring zero value to me at the booth. Last year at ISC I actually made a joke out of it by having my coworker take a photo of me talking to three of them at three separate booths. He then text those to my wife back home with the words "Always Networking while in Vegas", she would expect nothing less of me than to joke like that.

They cannot generate that many good quality leads and to me is makes me think that the manufacturer must think I'm a pretty easy catch if all they have to do is put a pretty girl out there with a piece of junk camera and I will be interested in the line.

All joking aside, these threads on BB's are vigourously contested although they are really one-sided with the hard right taking on the mid right center...

Since we have no posters stepping up to help understand why this practice is in existence, except by implying that some other over-sexed, purchasing challenged, s.o.b. without a shred of influence is fooling shallow and desperate vendors into thinking that BB's are worth the money they are paying...

Have I not captured the essence of what's been said? (By all means correct my paraphrasing.)

This leads one to wonder which of the following are true:

a) Vendors don't know that BB's are losing them money, so even with the no doubt increasing negative sentiment, they continue.

b). Vendors are profitting from BB's but the people who fall prey to them are not on this forum.

c) People on this forum are influenced by them but are uncomfortable admitting it

d) People on this forum are influenced by them but are unaware of it on some level.

Since a and b have been beat to death and c difficult to gauge, I'll take d.

Let's pick on someone who has many times showed his aversion to BB's as our test case, John, since he is honest, has a thick skin and if he were to admit that perhaps booth babes can have a positive influence on him then that would be something.

So starting with a more extreme, though highly plausible, case at first, since what's the point of trying anything if we get no traction here...

John, In your single days I'm presuming you found attractive women attractive? Yes/No

Have you ever seen a BB that you would consider attractive and would consider dating, assuming whatever other attributes you desired were met? Yes/No

Have you ever felt even a mild interest in someone after speaking with them for just several minutes? Yes/No

Would you, even if you were single, and all your possible dating partner requirements were met by a relatively moderately dressed BB, actually refuse to consider them as a possible interest because of your rigid BB ethics? Yes/No

And if you were to consider asking them to lunch or even just lingering a bit casually conversing to discover if they were someone you might be interested in, might you listen to their pitch when you might not of before? Yes/No

And there you have it, a small amount of booth babe benefit and from a booth babe basher.

Now its time for a confession, but first I must warn you there maybe be some moral turpitude ahead.

I went on a date with a booth babe! Apparently they are just like women in every way! I heard that one even got married...

So most guys at some time in their life or another, may be searching for some one when the real or imagined BB possibility presents itself. You go for it or not; but its unlikely that what you say about in some forum about not being influenced by a abstract, hypothetical booth babe will otherwise prevent you from interacting with a real, flesh and blood woman.

And you, just like me, might tell yourself that even though you are smitten, and maybe go as far as, god forbid, being a little more interested or a little less sarcastic than you might have otherwise been, that you could care less about the product. But maybe the product, if its good, could work for you, and what better way to find out than just go back to that booth tomorrow and see...

Happens all the time I suppose, just not to anyone around here, except me...

But it doesn't matter, booth babes are on their 'last legs'.

Why? Because righteous men finally overcame their libido and said 'No mas!'?

No, because slowly more women are moving into positions of power in the corporate world, and just a small minority of them in management positions will be enough to see it fade into obscurity...

But the men will take the credit, as usual

Half-life expectancy: 2 years


Chris, I give up. I do not have time for your super long, rambling, weird comments.

I am not even sure what you are getting it, but I have never thought about pursuing or dating a booth babe. When I am at a show, I have a limited amount of time where I am trying to get a lot of things done. Hitting on anyone - girl, guy, booth babe, employee, janitor, etc., is way way at the bottom of my priority list.

Why booth babes are used is no mystery to me. It's a form of entertainment, like some booths have magicians or comedians or Elvis impersonators or bars or whatever. The main difference is that booth babes are inherently demeaning to women.

Ok. I thought it made sense but I'd rather not be a bore. So just delete it and replace it with this relevant related industry link:

The CES 'Booth Babe' Is Nearly Extinct — Here's What's Replacing Her

I just got back from NRF big show this week and several of the booths had replaced the "babes" with projection cutout attendents like below. It was the first time I'd seen them, and they wern't getting much attention. I would imagine the "loop" would get very annoying for the real folks that had to hear it 100 times a day


Oh wow. This is in some ways sadder than actual booth babes. And weird.

And even harder to date than real ones:

Contrary to appearances, these ladies are not "push-overs".

I find that the Projection Babes are actually selling the product and discussing features and benefits. Traditional Booth Babes (from my experience) are just standing there handing out bags or scaning badge and don't know a thing about what is being promoted in the booth. I think that some manufacturers like to look at pretty ladies all day so they hire them for the booth. Gross!

I have never seen a "grandma" working a booth at ISC West unless they consider someone over 30 a grandma. I always come with a list of mfg I need to see, then ones I am investigating for a project, then just taking a few hours to roam and find strange or unique products that I find amusing. The asian section always has attractive women (woudnt classify them booth babes) working their booths and I never think twice about approaching them to discuss a product they are showing. The ones I tend to remember always using some sort of booth babe or stunt are the oldschool alarm monitoring companies and maybe Aventura Tech - think they had Playmate of the year posing for pics a year or so ago