LAS VEGAS, NV (BRAIN)--Try smiling, wearing a skimpy outfit and standing on your feet all day while you attempt to charm strangers and lure them into trade show booths by talking about products you know little about.
It’s not an easy job. But for the beautiful models who work as “booth babes” in frenetic convention halls, the work is worth the pay.
“We are the bait to get people in here and learn about the product,” said Sylvia Ramirez, a Las Vegas resident hired by WingFlyer foot-powered scooters. “We’re eye candy. They see us and it brings attention to the booth. What can I say? Sex sells.”
Ramirez, 28, also a bartender, learned about the job through a Craiglist ad posted by WingFlyer.
Rates for the job vary between $100 and $500 daily depending on the model and whether she works for an agency. Several women said the pay has dropped in recent years following the economic downturn.
Ad model Crystal Thurman of Las Vegas was hired to work for FreeMotion, the official stationary training bike of the Tour de France.
“It’s hard selling all day and you have to have a thick skin,” she said. “But if you have an outgoing personality, it’s fun and you get to talk to a lot of people.”
Amanda Kesjaral and Christa Hansen, both 22-year-olds from Las Vegas, were hired by Hüdz to schmooze showgoers about the company’s colorful brake hoods and Cable Donutz. In a highly technical industry like bicycles, it is a challenge for any noncyclist to master the technical terminology in a day.
“We are selling handlebar covers,” Kesjaral said about the brake hoods. “It works for 10 speed and above. And we have Cable Donutz to prevent rusting.”
The number of paid models working at booths during Interbike has decreased significantly in the last decade in part due to the down economy and perhaps because the industry is not as male oriented as it was years ago.
The booth babes don’t exactly appeal to female showgoers, Thurman said.
“If you don’t look at the women and smile and say ‘Hi,’ they walk right by and they don’t look at you,” she said. “Mostly it’s just guys who want to talk to you and come up and take photos with us.”
Over the years, Marzocchi has become the most famous exhibitor to hire stunning women to schmooze retailers to sell suspension. One “Marzocchi girl,” as they have come to be known, was signing posters Thursday in the company’s booth. The poster signing is expected to continue today.
Challenges on the job include facing dirty looks from disapproving show-goers and men mistaking the models’ friendliness as actual flirting. It’s a tricky business to remain cordial in those circumstances. Also, models don’t always get to select what they wear.
“I sometimes want to say, ‘I didn’t choose this outfit. This is my job,’ ”said Hansen, who also works as a cocktail waitress. “But overall it’s fun, it’s good money, and it offers flexible dates.”
Other benefits include networking and writing off the cost of makeup, salon visits and clothing from their income taxes. They also have the opportunity to discover new products and new industries.
“I’ve learned so much about bicycles,” Kesjaral said. “I’m going to buy a bike after the show ends.”