The new year opened with two of the biggest conferences of the year, CES in Las Vegas and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Over the years, attendees at conferences like these have been desensitized to a rather controversial sight, a creature colloquially known as the “booth babe.” Exhibitors desperate to draw eyes to their booths would hire a squad of buxom models to help hawk their wares.
However, it now seems that this trend is falling out of fashion.
On the last day of CES this January, PC Mag reported that “booth babes are a long-standing tradition at CES. Word has it these ladies first made an appearance at CES back in the 1960s, but the moniker didn’t arrive until 20-some years later, in the mid-80s.”
Even so, times have changed since the 60s, and the magazine wasn’t the only outlet wondering if the tradition was finally becoming a relic. Many trade show pros feel the tactic is in poor taste. After CES 2014, TechCrunch called the practice “indefensible.”
But there’s another reason the phenomenon has become more rare: it doesn’t work. There’s a growing consensus that the so-called booth babe simply does not convert leads. Period.
That’s a problem. Custom exhibit designs at trade shows can work wonders. Even in these digital times, a recent study by B2B Magazine found that event and trade shows were the second largest area of growth in media spending. That’s why every year, the average company will spend 31.6% of its marketing budget on events and exhibits, totaling more than $24 billion in the U.S. for trade show custom exhibit displays alone.
Why are booth babes falling out of fashion? Many exhibit design companies believe that booth babes make many attendees uncomfortable or anxious. And when they do bring people into the booth, they often acquire low quality leads, to say nothing of the visitors offended by the concept altogether.
No amount of models, bells, or whistles will distract from weak products or bad trade show booth design. Ultimately, successful companies need a professional, informative, and impressive exhibit. Even if your exhibit houses America’s top models, it won’t matter if the booth itself is subpar. That’s why custom exhibit design is part art, part science.
Instead of hiring college students to stand around all day, many companies are instead investing in a proven exhibit company that knows exactly how to create a custom exhibit design that converts.