CeBIT to address shortage of booth babe attire

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CeBIT to address shortage of booth babe attire
"Bored" and "worried" at the Crazy Domains stand. photo: Nate Cochrane

Stallholders go a little too skimpy.

Hannover Fairs, organiser of this week's CeBIT IT trade show in Sydney, is to monitor the attire of "booth babes" in future exhibitions to address concerns that the show floor of the business-focused event has strayed into trashy territory.

'Booth babes' is convention-industry parlance for young, attractive women hired by standholders to attract male delegates.

They are also commonplace at automotive trade shows.

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In an ICT industry struggling to attract women to its ranks, concerns were raised at this year's event over a small number of exhibitors that were seen to have taken the booth babe concept too far.

Attendees took to Twitter to express their disappointment (and in other cases, delight).

"How exactly are Booth Babes not incredibly offensive to every man and woman at #CeBit in Australia?" asked Aaron Quigley, Director of HIT Lab Australia. "It's 2010 people!"

"Why do IT companies still think booth babes are a clever marketing trick?" asked Rachel De Sain, vice president of the Victorian branch of AIMIA. "Trashy and so last century."

Another attendee noticed that the Booth Babes looked both "bored" and "worried" as they talked shop with "dirty oldies".

"Walked past the Crazy Domains stall at Cebit... Very awkward," noted web designer Andy Hobbs.

"Holy crap! If you like skanky, this year's CeBIT is for you. Super-skimpy gold bikinis? Doesn't make me want to buy, sorry," said blogger Benjamin Cowell.

Time for a crackdown?

In past years, the prime concern for Hannover Fairs was whether booth babes remained on their stands rather than walking the floor to spruik products. The organisers' vigilance paid off at this year's show - with no reports of delegates being hassled in the aisles.

The organisers nonetheless noted some slip ups in the dress code.

Customers were surveyed to get the full range of opinion on the issue - only to find a mixed bag of responses.

"CeBIT Australia is a business show and it is everyone's interest to participate according to expected standards," said Jackie Taranto, CEO of Hannover Fairs Australia.

"With regard to the attire worn by stand personnel, our exhibitor agreements do specify appropriate business attire.

"Clearly we will need to be more strict in the future."

What's your take on booth babes? Harmless fun? The dull reality of trade shows? Or sexism? Comment below.

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