Meeting professionals who have not already begun exploring the online world of Second Life may want to consider getting started. The Meetings Community listserv, better known as MeCo, announced yesterday the official launch of the MeCo Mansion, a virtual meeting spot for planners in Second Life’s computer fantasy world created by San Francisco technology company, Linden Lab.

In order to explore the mansion, meeting planners create an “avatar,” or digital character that represents them in the Second Life world. Once inside, they will find a fully furnished, 16-room virtual mansion designed and funded by MeCo moderator, Dan Parks, president and creative director of Dana Point, Calif.-based, Corporate Planners Unlimited Inc.

The space includes a reception area, a training room with broadcast capabilities where video clips from various speakers will soon be accessible, and even a game room and well-stocked bar. In addition, the MeCo Mansion also boasts a law library, a resource room with links to articles on meeting planning, and a technology room where meeting technology expert Corbin Ball offers his favorite links and articles. And, of course, no meeting space would be complete without a conference room featuring multimedia capabilities and boardroom seating.

Second Life newbies who would like to check out the MeCo Mansion, fear not: A tutorial for navigating through the online world can be found at podiums located around the mansion’s fountain.

MeCo is not the only meeting industry organization to get involved with Second Life. On April 11, Amsterdam-based meeting and exhibition management company Congrex announced plans to establish a branch in Second Life. The site will inform visitors about how to get meeting, exhibition, and association management advice in the real world.

Second Life’s 5,225,000 residents and 1,625,000 regular users also include companies such as IBM, GM, and Reuters who have set up real estate in the online world and encourage their employees to explore SL’s opportunities for meeting virtually.—Rachel Gecker