Infosec to exhibitors: Clean up your act

Ts and Cs tightened following storm of negative feedback relating to revealing attire sported at last year's show

By Doug Woodburn

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15 Feb 2013

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Promo staff at trade show

Exhibitors have been banned from wearing "inappropriate, revealing and offensive" attire at Infosec, CRN has learned.

Organisers have implemented a dress code crackdown following a storm of negative feedback relating to the attire – or lack thereof – worn by exhibitors at last year's show, which bills itself as Europe's number-one IT security event.

Exhibition director Claire Sellick confirmed in a letter to exhibitors, seen by CRN, that its Ts and Cs relating to the conduct of exhibitors have been tweaked for this year's event, which takes place on 23 to 25 April at Earls Court.

Further reading

"During and after the 2012 event, we experienced an unprecedented volume of negative feedback relating to the apparel (or lack of) worn by some staff on stands and in the aisles," Sellick wrote.

"The feedback came from visitors (your customers/target customers), exhibitors and the press during the event, on blogs and in news articles.

"I am sure you will agree that for such a professional industry this ‘focus' is an unnecessary distraction. In direct response to this we have taken the decision to amend our exhibition participation terms stating that all stand staff must be dressed in appropriate attire. Inappropriate, revealing and/or offensive apparel will not be permitted."

The clampdown comes in the wake of a similar move by US consumer electronics show CES to discourage exhibitors from using so-called "booth babes" from next year – although organisers stopped short of an outright ban.

Tweaks to exhibitor Ts and Cs at Infosec, which last year drew in 7,000 vistitors on its peak day, include the new rule that "exhibitors and their representatives shall wear appropriate business wear".

Neither should they take part in any canvassing or leafleting, without the prior consent of the organiser. Petitioning, demonstrations, "objectionable behaviour" and the wearing of "offensive apparel" have also been banned.

This week's CRN poll asks whether or not trade shows should ban scantily clad promo women from their stands and aisles, and the results so far are revealing. Sixty per cent of the 160 voters to date said "absolutely not, live and let live", with just 24 per cent saying exhibitors should wear only business or company-related attire.

However, Infosec exhibitors we spoke to agreed that some have overstepped the mark in recent years.

Ian Kilpatrick, chairman of exhibitor Wick Hill, said: "One year there were girls wandering around in basques and stockings – they would probably be arrested if they wore that outside the hall. For those who like that kind of thing there are lots of places they can go, should they wish to. I would not say that Infosec is top of that list."

Adam King, field marketing manager UK and Ireland at security vendor WatchGuard, agreed that some of the "showgirls" employed in recent years had been "over the top".

According to organisers, Infosec drew in 12,450 unique visitors last year, 19 per cent up on 2011.

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