The business case for booth boys at trade shows


Tess Nacelewicz here, the new associate editor of Security Systems News. I'll have my photo and bio on this blog next week.

ASIS 2010 has just finished, but my thoughts already are turning to next year. And I have a great idea for the ASIS 2011 show: more “booth boys.”

Before I showed up in Dallas for ASIS this week  – my very first trade show! – I had heard that “booth babes” were a feature of the experience.

Sure enough, there were a lot of attractive young women wearing tight clothing and big smiles at various booths as they handed out information or encouraged people to sign up for promotions and free prizes.

But I wasn’t expecting the booth boy. Yet, there he was when I went to Stanley Convergent Security Solutions’ booth: a good-looking, personable young man in swim shorts and a tank top, with a  surfboard as a prop. (Stanley went with an “oasis” theme this year, complete with music from The Beach Boys and a thatch-roofed hut.)

The booth boy (sorry, guy, I forgot to ask your name) put his arm around me as my editor snapped a picture.

Later, in talking to Stanley officials, they said a lot of other women had snagged him for photo shoots too. In fact, by midday on the first day of the show Stanley said it had a record number of visitors at its booth.

OK, maybe that wasn’t all due to the handsome surfer dude, but it got me thinking: Why weren’t there more booth boys?

Look at it this way. The booth babes, in addition to being pleasing eye candy and adding to the fun of the show, also have a business function. They attract more people to your display.

And yes, it was clear from the crowds at the show that guys still predominate in the industry.

But it’s also evident that the industry is attracting more women. They range from women in top management (such as three impressive women I met at the show: JoAnna Sohovich, president of Honeywell Security & Communications; Lisa Roy of Johnson Controls, vice president of global security strategy; and Jamie Haenggi, CMO at Protection One) to the women attendees at ASIS walking the floor to learn what you’ve got to offer.

So, next year, how about some more booth boys to help attract women to displays?

You need not consider it gender parity…it could just be good business!



<p>SSN's managing editor Dan Gelinas, here. You make a valid argument, Tess... After much consideration, Tim Purpura, Gregg Shapiro and I will be bringing our skimboards and board shorts with us to ESX 2011.</p>