Rant - The Concept of Booth-Babes


Having visited a few conferences in the last years I have spotted a trend I didn’t think I would see in the IT-Pro sphere. You could probably call me naïve for that but logically we should not encourage this trend. This is my appeal to all exhibitors of future conferences to re-evaluate the concept of booth-babes.

I will not go into the genus-political part of this discussion as of now–others are more eloquent and fit to handle that–but rather some of the more pragmatic sides to ditch the BB (short for Booth-Babe) and how that would gain us visitors as well as the exhibitors. I will also keep a pretty frank, and perhaps impolite, tone in this rant of mine.

So, here’s my top reasons, in no particular order, to give up the BBs.

Reason #1 - BBs is disrupting the purpose of the exhibition

When I go to a conference, I am there for the tech, to network and shake paws with the people I collaborate with on-line. It is also a good place to meet the actual corporations that I do business with and discuss their products between four eyes.
I do not want to plow through a crowd of great white whales [Oops! I meant “males”] ogling the BBs to get to someone with actual knowledge about the products and solutions at hand.

Reason #2 - BBs are alienating the visitors

If you are a heterosexual male or a homosexual female, the BBs can actually make you embarrassed, shy and unwilling to approach the exhibitor for that sole reason.
If you are not, you might find an exhibitor with BBs appalling and take another route for that sole reason.

Reason #3 - BBs are intimidating the female visitors

There is, of course, exceptions to this, but I actually discussed this matter with a couple of gentlewomen in the alumni lounge and they did say that they are both appalled and intimidated to the slightly clad BBs at one particular booth at this years MMS. They even used terms like “ridiculous” and “waste of space” to describe the phenomena.
Now, I believe I can hear some of you readers thinking “what? Nice addition to the boring screens and …”. But imaging the opposite for a while. Imagine a whole bunch of Booth-Hunks instead. You know, Brad Pitt in Fight Club and the likes. I know I would be intimidated by that kind of display.

Reason #4 - BBs makes it hard to know who to talk to

Because of the BBs, it can at time be hard to know if the lady at the booth just happen to be a nice-looking knowledgeable tech-specialist or simply someone there for eye-candy. Too many times have I had a conversation like this:

- "Hi! So, tell me about [SystemX]. It looks kinda interesting on paper."
- "Hi! Uh, oh! Yeah! You should probably be talking to that guy over there. I don't really know anything about their stuff."

I hate it. I want to be able to pick anyone in the booth and get a cohesive answer. You cannot be expert on everything and some people are more marketing focused, but at least they can give you the big picture before calling some techy fellow. Last year I had a really nice discussion with a nice lady from EMC that later led to get access to to some beta code. Unfortunately, I had by then grown tired of the BBs and merely approached her since there were lines to the male exhibitors. Which brings me to…

Reason #5 - Having BBs is disrespecting your female colleagues.

There you are. You most certainly have some very talented women in your development teams–my experience is that’s where you’ll find most of them, as architects and lead developers–but for some reason your decide to hire a bunch of BBs to “spice it up a little”, “draw a little crowd”, “get the attention” and so forth. Do you really think your female colleagues appreciate that? Isn’t that diminishing their talent a bit? I am sure that those who attend conferences for technical reasons and to do a bit of networking would take a nice technical discussion with anyone, however geeky she/he might be, rather than side-stepping a crowd or some figure-head on my way there.

I don’t know. Maybe I am alone in this matter, but I’d really like to see this change. I would really like to see vendors and exhibitors trying to dazzle the visitors with great displays, clever uses of software and mind-blowing products and not scantily clad women.

Ah, well. Thanks for your time.