I found this company, InXpo.com. They built a virtual trade show service in which exhibitors can sell trade show booths to companies to hold a virtual event. Complete with an auditorium, exhibit hall, lounge, a resource center, social networking tools and more, InXpo.com has the idea that people will spend time doing SecondLife type trade-showing from the comfort of their own home/office. I went through the demo, and it looks cool. Lots going on to keep one engaged, but has it caught on?
Then there is this article in the Wall Street Journal about SecondLife's "second chance"...
Second Life is getting a renewed lease on life as a setting for trade shows, employee meetings and other corporate events for the likes of Northrop Grumman, Cigna Corp., Intel Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co.
Linden Research Inc., the San Francisco company behind Second Life, is targeting business users with new products and services, including a feature that will let users call into virtual meetings from their cellphones. It is also testing hardware that companies can plug into their computer networks to create private virtual venues.
So SecondLife is betting that "where the people already are, they will use it?" That's what I see and it makes sense (I think). People are "already in" Las Vegas, Chicago, NY, etc. and they already have trade shows there (I'm in Chicago now). Personally, I've never been to virtual trade show, but if someone has one for me that might be interesting, send me a link!