Mike Burton

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Mike Burton's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Mike Burton is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
Chief Executive Ian Edwards
Mike Burton Group head
office, Gloucester
As the pioneers of sports hospitality, The Mike Burton
Group has come a long way from the days a red double-
decker London bus served clients in Twickenham’s
West Car Park for England’s home rugby internationals. Based
in Gloucestershire, it is a provider of premium supporter
experiences, partnering with the Rugby Football Union, the
Olympic Games, the Rugby World Cup and the British and Irish
Lions. Chief Executive Ian Edwards elaborates.
Those halcyon days were more than 35 years ago, and a lot has changed in the
world of sport, hospitality and fan engagement since then, but one thing has
remained constant – we have remained an innovator and trendsetter in fan-led
engagement programmes. By the turn of the century, we were a leading provider
of official hospitality at Twickenham and the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, as
well as managing supporter tours across the world under the Mike Burton Travel
brand for clubs and fans.
Innovating and evolving
As the times changed and business challenges mounted in an increasingly
saturated hospitality market, we changed and evolved with it thanks to foresight,
knowledge and adaptability. Through the entrepreneurial forward thinking of our
Chairman Mike Burton and late Chief Executive Andrew Burton, the business took
the decision to engage and work with governing bodies to create brand-aligned
supporter travel and hospitality programmes.
»Chief Executive: Ian Edwards
»Founded in 1981
»Based in Gloucester
»Services: Tour operator and
corporate hospitality
»No. of employees: 67
Mike Burton
At the time, leading governing
bodies had little understanding of
our knowledge and experience in
the sports travel industry, but in the
search for ways to interact and live
their brands through their clients and
fans, the creation of brand-led official
travel experiences was identified as the
perfect engagement tool.
The dynamic of world sport was
changing rapidly and at the same
time as the sports travel element of
the business was launched, Andrew’s
second vision was to transform the
hospitality offering at blue riband
sporting events like Rugby World
Cup and Olympic Games. We
combined our business acumen and
knowledge with the financial strength
and infrastructure of the service
specialists Sodexo to create Rugby
Travel Hospitality, which has since
become Sports Travel Hospitality,
now one of the leading operators
of official hospitality and travel
programmes across the globe for
major sportingevents.
In 2005, alongside the RFU, we have
created a joint venture company
called England Rugby Travel, to
provide ticket-inclusive travel and
event experiences to England fans at
all major internationals, home and
away. The key difference for England
Rugby Travel in the marketplace lay in
its use of the England Rose and brand
alignment to England, which proved
a powerful tool with fans, while our
service levels, attention to detail and
proximity to the England squad, thanks
to exclusive special events with the
coaching team, led to unanimous
customer satisfaction.
While the business still operated highly
successful hospitality products, the
scope of what we did was changing
and we began planning for the future
by using the sports travel template
to engage with new governing
bodies and partners to keep one
step ahead of the competition. By
2011, the business evolved again. By
harnessing longstanding relationships
within The British and Irish Lions, we
proposed the creation of a second joint
venture company for the 2013 tour
to Australia, and Lions Rugby Travel
This was a huge development for
both parties. For the Lions, it allowed
them greater access to their fan
base and in turn more leverage to
their brand proposition because it
provided them with a platform to offer
a more Lions-centric experience for
The result is greater reassurance
in terms of the quality of ticket-
inclusive travel products on sale,
while we have been able to provide
unique and specialist travel and event
knowledge for the delivery of the tour
for The Lions, sponsors, partners and
supporters and subsequently delivered
more than 4,000 ticket-inclusive
travel packages to Australia. Our way,
however, is to continue to develop our
offering by understanding the needs of
Lions Rugby Travel
clients get together at
the “Eve of Test” event
at the British & Irish
Lions Tour 2017, New
Zealand, Wellington
The creation of
official travel
experiences was
identified as the
Highlighting best practice
Continued success
Our success lies in the way we live the
values and ethos of each brand we
work alongside, immersing ourselves in
their business, successfully harnessing
our vast pool of knowledge and
delivering it through that chosen
partner and brand.
At the forefront of the sports travel
industry, we are evolving all the time,
becoming more technically advanced
via online booking options to give
consumers a seamless customer
journey, while delivering unbeatable
live experiences for fans once they are
on tour.
By the time the 2017 British and
Lions tour to New Zealand had come
around, Lions Rugby Travel again
redefined its boundaries. More than
6,000 direct clients made the trip
to New Zealand and all experienced
a groundbreaking special event
programme called “Lions’ Dens”. This
brought The Lions and their legends to
life in a way previously unheard of for
travelling fans and exposed the values
of The Lions in a genuinely liveable
way to theconsumer.
Running concurrently, England Rugby
Travel delivered more than 30,000
ticket-inclusive ticket packages to
Rugby World Cup 2015 in England as
the exclusive Official Travel Agent for
Great Britain and will do so again for
Japan 2019.
The future is exciting for us. Governing
bodies are continually attracted to our
evolving excellence within the industry,
and in the last two years it has created
ICC Travel and Tours to provide
ticket-inclusive packages to the ICC
Champions Trophy and Cricket World
Cup 2019.
But perhaps the biggest endorsement
of our evolution from a red double-
decker bus to the pre-eminent sports
travel provider in the world is the
association with the British Olympic
Association and the creation of Team
GB Live, which will not only provide
travel services for athletes and their
nearest and dearest to Tokyo 2020 but
will also operate Team GB’s first fully
inclusive supporter travel programme
to The Games – a gold medal
development for our future.
At the forefront
of the sports
travel industry,
we are evolving
all the time,
unbeatable live
experiences for
fans on tour
Lions Rugby Travel
“Lions Den”British &
Irish Lions Tour 2017,
Auckland, New Zealand


This article was sponsored by Mike Burton. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister