In June, dozens of models will strut down a specially built runway in clothing ranging from lingerie to couture suits to shimmering evening gowns. More than 800 corporate guests will ooh and aah over the edgy outfits during the high-energy 90-minute show.

Fashion Week in Manhattan? No, this event will unfold in a tent in a University of Cincinnati parking garage.

But you'd never know the difference inside, because of the expertise of a professional event planner hired to run this annual fundraiser for U.C.'s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning.

The importance of this sophisticated party and fashion show means it's worth the expense of hiring a firm such as Camargo Rental. The 33-year-old Madeira business designs the party space, builds the runway, erects the tents, collaborates on the "feel'' of the party, and provides everything from martini glasses to flora. "The DAAP fashion show is a heck of a corporate event," says Camargo's James Murphy.

His choice of words is telling. In fact, the "corporate event" is strongly rebounding from both economic recession and the chill that 9/11 cast on American private and business entertaining, according to national and greater Cincinnati special event experts.

A Primedia Business Marketing Research poll of 1,900 special events experts nationwide found that nearly one-third expect 2005 revenues from business events to rise 20 percent or more. Another third project those revenues to jump between 5 and 19 percent. At the same time, 71 percent of event planners said they are not hiking their fees this year.

"After 9/11, special events came to a halt and businesses scaled back," says Kim Fitzpatrick, an event planner for The Aileen Co. in Sharonville. "Now, businesses are spending more money to increase their business."

But there are other trends at work as well in corporate special events. Today, you're more likely to find more elaborate themes, interactive party components, grazing stations with bite-sized portions of food, and hipper décor.

Many Greater Cincinnati businesses have increased their budgets for team-building employee events that may include game-show-style contests, industry trivia games, virtual golf or Texas hold-'em poker. The goal is to get members of a diverse workforce communicating with each other, building relationships and participating in energizing activities between training or goal-setting sessions.

Whether you're organizing a business meeting for 25 or a citywide event, make sure you're working with a professional meeting planner - or a venue that employs one, suggests Will Greiner, director of the Sharonville Convention Center. Greiner spent 11 years in the meeting and event planning business before joining the convention center 13 years ago, and understands the importance of a professional organizer.

"Depending on what you are doing, yes, it's a good idea to work with people who are experienced in event planning," says Greiner. "At our convention center, when I came on board and being from the meeting planner side of the fence, I was determined we were going to offer the best services possible. We do more than just rent a room and provide food. Our job is to make our client look good."

It's critical to begin with the correct first steps, advises Greiner. "When we sit down with somebody to plan their event, it's important to keep things in chronological order. It helps us and them to make sure we are covering all the details: what kind of A/V, the lighting, the timing. We say, 'Let's keep it in order here.' If you let a client jump around in a meeting, you can miss a segment."

Sometimes, it's the building and not just the meeting planner that makes all the difference.

Take the METS Center for Corporate Learning, a new facility in Northern Kentucky specifically designed with the corporate meeting planner in mind. The design and specifications of the entire building are the direct result of hundreds of meetings and conversations with corporate planners, HR professionals and training providers throughout the Tristate. The complex features a 150-seat smart auditorium with two 8-foot-high rear screen projectors, rear plasma screen, digital recording and editing devices, and audience response technology, among other bells and whistles. "It's what our clients told us they wanted," says Mark Wallisa, general manager for the METS Center.

Gregg Hudson, president and CEO of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, understands the value of putting on a good party. His annual Zoofari fundraiser attracted 1,400 people to a South American-themed event on zoo grounds last September. It raised about $500,000.

The 90 to 100 corporations sponsoring the event, and hundreds of community volunteers, open the zoo up to a whole new membership market, Hudson says. Young, urban corporate employees may come to the zoo for the first time for Zoofari.

This year's party theme is Expedition to Asia, and will include Chinese acrobats, Asian animals and more than 30 food stations from the best chefs in town, Hudson says. Once again, the zoo will use Joe Rigotti's creative mind to design décor and entertainment.

Rigotti is creative director of Accent on Cincinnati. About 80 percent of the events he plans are corporate or association meetings, product launches for regional salespeople, or thank-you celebrations for employees.

Rigotti has brought in Cirque de Sol entertainers, hypnotists and Broadway Revue groups recently for events. He's designed game shows built around company trivia. For one annual corporate gathering, he did everything in bold red - from carpeting, to tablecloths to dishes to floral centerpieces.

"I think that corporations are seeing that to value their employees and customers, these events have become marketing tools," Rigotti says. "People are becoming more sophisticated, and businesses are rearranging their budgets to do something nice."