10 Alternatives to Booth Babes

Skift Take

It’s time for us to take the lead and bring trade shows into the 21st century, by eliminating the booth babe once and for all. Here are 10 alternatives to booth babes all exhibitors should consider.

As event professionals, you work hard to set the tone and perception of the trade shows you organize. Consider what kind of message your exhibitors are sending out by continuing the archaic practice of scantily clad booth babes? Some shows are now even going as far as writing it into their exhibitor contracts to completely ban booth babes from the show floor.

Most brands have already dropped sexualization in advertising, yet they still seem to be targeting their trade show marketing efforts to men and miss appealing to the female consumer. According to John G. Wirtz, men are still drawn to sexual advertisements while women are not. Yet, in April 2017, Forbes Magazine stated that women have 51% of the buying power for electronics. Alienating half the population isn’t a savvy marketing strategy and it is time to stamp out this prehistoric approach, right now!

Now is the time to break away from the past. In a female dominated industry, such as the event industry, we have let this tradition go on for too long already. Our audience is changing and we need to produce events for the next generations of tech and media savvy executives. With the imminent retirement of baby boomers, our industry needs to be smarter with spending budgets and producing cutting-edge experiences at shows. Booth babes are no longer part of the equation.

So, how can we help exhibitors shake up their traditional booth and actually target and appeal to those with the real purchasing power? It makes sense to eliminate booth babes and in doing so encourage serious customers to approach exhibitors because of the product offer and real interest. It is our role as event planners to educate exhibitors on viable alternatives to booth babes. After all, a happy exhibitor or sponsor is more likely to sign up for next year’s show.

Here are 10 tips to creating a memorable exhibit space, without the booth babe distracting the real reason for exhibiting in the first place.


  1. Brand Ambassadors

Exhibitors should consider utilizing those who are already speaking highly of the products. Brand ambassadors are an easy way to build a pool of experts who can demo the product and speak knowledgeably about it at a trade show. Exhibitors will be able to spend minimal money on training them and also sending them to the show. They can even double as a presenter and tell their story if they have any stage time.

  1. Infotainers

Nowadays, it’s hard to pass a street corner without a sign spinner for a new business opening. The person on the street is likely to be dressed up as a superhero from the latest Marvel movie or as a well-recognized singer like Elvis!

Exhibitors can bring their booth to life with the same concept of entertainment. Play into the latest comic on the big screen or the city where the show takes place. If exhibitors are going this route they need to have enticing information to encourage the visitor to drop by the stand. Think carefully about the offer so it encourages the right people and true leads to take action. The infotainer could give the attendee a reason to visit the booth with a ticket to pick up an item, such as a free report, or a coupon on a deal for example.

  1. Crowd Gatherers

When it comes to crowd gatherers, these typically work best for demos and presentations at the booth. These people can double as a brand ambassadors, and help exhibitors to pull people from around the show to come to the demo and park them in empty seats. They can help create a buzz about what is coming up on the hour and grab groups of people.

  1. Specialized Experiences

One effective tactic for exhibitors is to partner with a vendor that provides a specialized experience. The trick to the partnership is appealing to the target audience and making it experiential. Effective and memorable specialties could be a mixologist creating drinks at a booth or rolling cigars onsite. Exhibitors should make it stand out from what you would typically see at a tradeshow but be cautious about messaging. Ask, will this experience help the potential client remember our company and product?

  1. Competitions

Another good opportunity for exhibitors to engage with attendees and draw them to the booth is through competitions and contests. Exhibitors can put together a strategy leading up to the trade show and give attendees questions they need to find the answer to before visiting the booth. The questions might take the person through to the company website or to their YouTube channel. Not only will this help the person become more familiar with the company and product, but it provides additional touch points for the exhibitor to engage with them before speaking to them in person at the event. The ultimate prize needs to be something worth all the effort, such as airline tickets or a getaway, and the last step is to show up to the booth to be entered into the draw.

  1. Get In The Game

Sports can be a great way for exhibitors to engage with attendees, especially if there are any major tournaments going on at the same time as the show. As event planners, you are often booking shows a years ahead of when the sports schedule will come out and you cannot predict who will be playing in the finals and any fixture clashes.

A great way for exhibitors to navigate this obstacle and to get people to visit and stay at the exhibit space is by creating a viewing area for the attendees. Pull together some big screen TVs with couches and chairs for the perfect lounge area. This could become the go-to-booth for sports fans. Of course it may also alienate any non-sport fans (male or female), so it needs careful consideration.

  1. Tech Bar

Have you traveled through Minneapolis lately? The airport has recognized the modern traveler needs to stay connected and upgraded their airport with individual iPads for workstations, as well as a way to order food or catch up on the latest sitcom.

Exhibit spaces should build in ways to attract the savvy business person, or even consumers who want to check in on their social channels. Exhibitors who set up a technology bar with plugs to recharge devices give people a reason to stay as they power up. By creating an environment for clients and potential clients to relax at the booth it also makes them more receptive to talking to exhibitors about their company or product.

  1. Live Demos

Exhibitors can let their technology do the talking by letting visitors try out their technology and hosting live demos at their booth. This is a great opportunity for them to demonstrate new product launches and even have the ability to display and troubleshoot products based on audience demand. Different areas of the booth can allow innovation to shine. Customers will appreciate being able to take a hands-on approach to interacting with the product and also asking questions to the experts.

  1. Show Your Presence on Social

Social media has made its mark on trade shows and events. Exhibitors can stay engaged by utilizing the conference hashtag and engaging with their customers and event attendees. You can incorporate a whole social media campaign, but exhibitors should stay involved and aware of what is going on online, even when at the show. Dedicate a full-time person to be the social director at each trade show so that exhibitors don’t let any questions or comments slip through the feed.

Educate exhibitors at your trade shows to be more creative, rather than blasting out sales messages or uninspiring “come to visit our stand” type tweets. Snapchat, Instagram, live streaming all offer great options to interact and be social and most of all to stand out!

  1. King of Swag

Branded swag is still going strong! Promotional items, t-shirts, the latest thermal mug that keeps drinks hot or cold are still go-to giveaways for exhibitors and snapped up by visitors. They are still popular as freebies draw people to a stand like nothing else. Only your exhibitors can decide where to spend their money, what will appeal to their target audience and how to stay on top of the latest buzz for promo items.

In Conclusion

Investing resources, time and money into having a booth at a trade show means that exhibitors are keen to maximize the number of quality leads they generate and event planners want to ensure they have the best level of return.

For many companies booth babes could actually be detrimental to their overall success and clients/potential clients are looking closely at how you represent your company and products. Make sure that your exhibition stands are memorable only for the right reasons. The value of a face-to-face connection is more important than ever and, whether you are the show director or an exhibitor, you don’t want any opportunity to be lost.