You might think that venues would fall over themselves to get a group of 40 people in for lunch, but that just isn't the case at the moment.
London, particularly, is very busy and you might find yourself being offered second or third option by venues. This means that someone is holding the date provisionally and if they don't confirm then you're next in line. It has to be said that not all venues are good at managing this system and, because there's so much business around, some may feel that they can get away with that.
As well as high levels of business the World Cup had an impact. Most event organisers breathed a sigh of relief when that finished and, probably, earlier on when England were knocked out. Had they gone through to the final that would have pretty much killed of events for a couple of weeks.
That is now over, but still the sense that there's a glut of business around is influencing venues. Not only is it hard to get dates but there are fairly high minimum event spend requirements; £2,000 being fairly average. If you have 40 people and your food is £20 per person then you'll need to spend another £20 on drinks. Easily done, but it's worth bearing in mind.
So, back to the first point. You might think that having a large group gives you a bit of power, but right at the moment that isn't something that you can rely on. Essentially don't expect venues to fall over themselves to get the business. I think I preferred the recession.