State of Play Hospitality is a pioneer in developing and managing technology-enhanced experiential leisure concepts. The innovative company operates fun and interactive concepts across the UK and the US, including Ace Bounce, Bounce, Hijingo, and Flight Club.
Before Payhawk, the State of Play team used multiple disconnected tools to manage finance. With multiple entities (or venues) across both the USA and the UK, they wanted to get a global view of spending and improve their payment processes throughout expense management and into their chosen ERP, NetSuite.
"Before Payhawk, we used quite a manual system in the UK and ran our expenses entirely from NetSuite," explained David Watson, Group Financial Controller at State of Play. "Card spend was via a traditional credit card from our bank."
The team wanted a single global platform that could operate across both the US and the UK, including cards, invoices, and reimbursable expenses.
"Pre switching to Payhawk, we used credit cards and bill.com for the accounts payable (AP) fulfilment system. It didn't integrate with NetSuite or combine cards and AP fulfilment, so there was some switching between tools," continued David. "One of the biggest advantages of Payhawk is the integrations between our accounting software and the ability to put payments in the hands of the actual users and operators (venues)."
Payhawk stood out by miles because of its 'all-in-one' nature.
"Taking corporate credit card transactions away from the traditional banks to a product that directly integrates with NetSuite was a game changer!" David said. "Now we save time and make better decisions thanks to complete visibility over our multi-entity spend."
With multiple US and UK venues, the State of Play team considers comprehensive multi-entity management a top priority.
“The international aspect of Payhawk is super important to us,” said David. “Particularly the ability to flick through the different dashboards and the different entities to just find out exactly when and where a transaction happened.”
The multi-entity management dashboard is important to the finance team as it lets them see an up-to-the-minute view over spend across each entity, including when a card transaction occurs and why.
“That’s what really sold Payhawk to us. We pay per platform rather than per transaction, which is vital to us as a hospitality business.”
“We’re currently a group with six component entities, but as we expand, it will only increase the need to pay per platform,” David explained. “That’s what really sold Payhawk to us. We pay per platform rather than per transaction, which is vital to us as a hospitality business.”
While multi-entity management features are essential for providing overall spend oversight, the finance team also loves our solution's super helpful customisation capabilities.
"We really rely on the customisable class settings within Payhawk to distinguish between venues so we can analyse performance," Andrew Jacobi, VP of US Finance, told us. "We create the custom fields that our cardholders use in order to categorise their spend. So, whether it's categorising between venues or categorising it into the right general ledger code, it's extremely helpful in terms of how we allocate spend."
Keeping track of spend across operators can be complex for a multi-venue hospitality organisation like State of Play. The finance team must stay on top of spend, forecasting, and tracking against budgets. At Payhawk, our customisable categories are designed with this in mind. State of Play's finance team uses the solution to quickly identify variances and potential overspending issues across different expense categories.
"At the end of the period, we look at two things. First, were we able to forecast our spend properly? For this, we put Payhawk directly in the hands of our venue managers so they can report on what they're spending money on. This approach means they can track spend against their budget and ensure they're meeting it across each general ledger category," Andrew explained. "Then, at the end of the period, we look at variance to budget — seeing whether a spend category exceeded or came in under budget. Payhawk allows us to spot if there's overspending in specific places up and down our P&L very quickly. For example, if we see that we're spending too much or more than expected on DJs in a particular venue."
"Payhawk allows us to spot if there's overspend in specific places up and down our P&L very quickly. For example, if we see that we're spending too much or more than expected on DJs in a particular venue."
"We can see what we spent on DJs over the period because of the invoices our operators submitted, and we categorised those invoices to the proper class and GL code, which is venue for us," Andrew continued. "By looking at the spending, we can say, 'We planned $5,000 for this period, but we spent $7,000. So, what happened?' Were we overcharged? Did we increase the frequency of DJs? And if so, should we adjust the budget for the next period?"
Vendor relationships are crucial for hospitality businesses like State of Play because they ensure reliable access to quality products and services, ultimately enhancing guest experience and driving success.
With their old providers, the finance team typically becomes a bottleneck for vendor or supplier management. The venue teams or central office functions couldn’t make purchases fast enough and had to wait days to receive corporate cards or get approvals.
“We have several vendors who require payment at the start of a relationship in order to begin a campaign or such like,” Andrew said. “So, being able to instantly issue a card for our teammate — with the exact limit they need — for that particular vendor lets them stay nimble while we stay in control.”
Vendor invoices are easier to manage, too. And because of our smart OCR, as soon as one of the team uploads an invoice, the information shoots into State Of Play’s chosen ERP, NetSuite.
“We get complete global spend visibility, and we can see our receipts and invoices directly in NetSuite because of Payhawk’s integration. That data flow means we can understand our P&L very quickly after we produce it with no headaches,” Andrew told us.
Since moving to our solution, the State of Play team are happy to leave the high stakes thrills at the venues, and keep the finances clear and easy to manage.
Businesses like State of Play find that switching to Payhawk offers big benefits, including time-saving through seamless ERP integrations and improved decision-making through real-time spend visibility.
Find out how your business could benefit, book a demo today.
“We’re currently a group with six component entities, but as we expand, it will only increase the need to pay per platform. That’s what really sold Payhawk to us. We pay per platform rather than per transaction, which is vital to us as a hospitality business.”
"We put Payhawk directly in the hands of our venue managers so they can report on what they're spending money on. This approach means they can track spend against their budget and ensure they're meeting it across each general ledger category."
"When I have to submit expenses, it's very easy to do as you can download an invoice from email straight onto Payhawk, it literally takes a couple of seconds. I love using Payhawk because I find it very efficient. It's very easy to use and very secure."