You Can't Fix Stupid, But You Can Exhibit It At Conferences

04 May, 2015 Bob Wilson


Sometimes you only have to be patient to find the golden nugget that proves an hypothesis or theory that you have long maintained. It is something that you have known in your heart is true, yet you have been unable to substantiate it to your own satisfaction. And when you find that useful tidbit of proof, evidence that you were right all along, it can come at the most unexpected of times. Such was the case at RIMS and the (until now suspected) use of the "trade show model". 

Trade show models, or "booth babes", as I will refer to them henceforth (simply to annoy those who see rampant misogyny in my every word), are the beautiful women you find working exhibit booths at various conferences around the nation. They are there, I presume, because it is believed they will draw decision making men and lesbians into the booth, where they will acquire copious amounts of whatever crap is being sold there. The heterosexual female decision maker, unfortunately, is apparently left to wander the exhibit halls aimlessly, lacking any such navigational guidance from this booth management wizardry. Whenever you inquire what these booth babes do for the firm they represent, they always tell you they "work in marketing". When you delve deeper and ask what they do in marketing, they usually say "work". You will occasionally get the more rare response, "Like, you know, marketing stuff".  

Those of us (commonly known as "Boothers") who suspected that many of the "beautiful people" we see in booths are actually model monkeys had never been able to find evidence to confirm our suspicions. That changed this year at the RIMS Conference in New Orleans. Last Tuesday RIMS offered lunch in the exhibit hall. These types of lunches are designed to draw everyone in to the exhibit area, and give attendees and exhibitors a better chance to interact over lunch. It was an opportunity at least one vendor likely now regrets. 

I was dining with friend and fellow Boother, Mark Walls. Mark is Vice President of Communications and Strategic Analysis at Safety National. Many of you know him because he invented the internet. Or he owns LinkedIn. I can never remember which one it is. Several people joined us at our table, including two exhibitors. One of the exhibitors, a man probably in his thirties, worked for a company that offered flood control services. None of us knew it at the time, but it was going to be a rough lunch for him.  

I asked him how specifically they could "control floods". He replied that they sold temporary levees. I asked, "Like the ones they use in New Orleans? Because Katrina showed they were also temporary". This lead him to disclose that he lived in New Orleans and had survived the storm, telling us his house had ended up in 15 feet of water. Walls immediately inquired of him, "So if you sell flood controls, how come your house got flooded? Were the levees too short?" I, of course, sensing weakness and responding as any pack animal would, joined in and said, "Were they just 8 feet? Sounds like the Fukishima model of flood control" (I don't have time to explain that. Google it if you don't know what I am talking about). He mumbled something about it being a long time ago and things will be different next time. As bad as this exchange may have been for him, it was about to get far worse.

I turned my attention to the attractive young woman sitting to his right, and unable to read her name tag, asked, "And who are you with?" Much to the chagrin of the flooded flood control guy she said, "I'm not with anybody. I am a trade show model". He looked at her with both surprise and amazement, shook his head and said, "No you're not. You're with my company". She completely ignored him, and proceeded to explain that her "agent told me about this job and that I should apply for it online". It was fairly apparent that she had no knowledge of, or interest in flood control; and her temporary boss was now getting a lesson in damage control. 

Too bad they don't sell temporary levees for that.

Walls and I however, as long time Boothers, were openly ecstatic at the revelation. Walls started shouting, "Finally we get an honest answer! I knew it ! I knew it!" The stammering flood control guy started to look more like the fellow who built the Fukishima flood walls. It was getting much deeper, much faster than he had anticipated. And, not to toot my own or Mark Walls horn, but this guy didn't know us from Adam. Had he known who she was saying this too, he likely would have needed an entirely different, and far more personal, method of flood control. 

As she prattled on about her modeling career, I couldn't help to think that this guy must not have paid her enough. Or he paid her too much; I could not determine which.   

So, fellow Boothers, the truth about booth babes is indeed out there, and we found it in New Orleans. To all of you who subscribe to this archaic and outdated exhibit staffing method, the jig is up. We're on to you. We finally have definitive proof that while you can't fix stupid, you can stick it in your booth and call it a marketing rep. 

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