I attended my first VMUG Conference this year in Indianapolis. I had the honor of hanging out with some old friend and I got to meet some new people that I would like to consider friends now. Shout out to community!
While walking the vendor hall I overheard a group of guys talking about one specific vendor and the “eye candy” that was present at the booth. The quickly made their way over to the vendor to get a better look. I won’t name the company but it was a vendor that I did want to talk to and get more information about their products. I waited for a while to make it over to the booth to let that group of bros clear out, but my trip to the booth resulted in the same frustration I have experienced many times in the past; The women at the booth handed me some literature and some swag but were unable to answer any questions. I had to wait until the ONE technical person at the booth could answer my questions.
While following the VMworld 2014 hashtag this year I saw a picture that made a lasting impression on me. The women working at the booth had buttons that said “Ask me a question, I’m not a booth babe.” The number of booth babes (I almost hate to use that term, sorry) has declined greatly since I started going to conferences over 15 years ago. One of my greatest frustrations is going to a booth to talk to a vendor and standing around with three or four booth babes making small talk just to get my turn to talk with the one or two technical resources. Why not have more people available to talk the product and talk tech? It was beyond frustrating to me and I got to the point where I would avoid these booths.
I reached out to Melissa Palmer (@vmiss33) to see if she knew anything about the people wearing these buttons. She had seen them as well and pointed me to Hans De Leenheer (@hansdeleenheer). The buttons are a result of a campaign that he started based on an idea from someone at Zerto, which turns out is the original vendor I saw at VMworld. I will post a link to the information on his site because I cannot do it the justice he has. Please visit his blog post for more information.
There is definitely a shift going on and the booth babe is fading away. And speaking of Melissa Palmer, please check out the CurrentStatus podcast she does with Phoummala Schmit (@PhoummalaSchmit) and Theresa Miller (@24x7ITConnect). I would be so happy if every booth had resources with this level of talent and knowledge, male or female.