Speke Travel: Scaling A Start-Up

The travel industry is home to some big players that have large budgets and a habit of using…

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Help accelerate the growth of the business during its infancy. Use digital marketing techniques to drive relevant traffic to the website resulting in phone and form enquiries of high quality with a likelihood of booking a bespoke trip with Speke Travel.

Challenges & Solutions

Saturated market & limited budget

The travel industry is home to some big players that have large budgets and a habit of using “blanket bidding” strategies on their pay-per-click campaigns. This means they bid on anything to do with certain destinations or holiday types, they don’t worry about specifics as they can afford to cover all bases. As a start-up, investment without guaranteed return is of course a risk, so we were cautious and agreed to start small with very targeted campaigns.

Little to no organic visibility

With a self-made website, although well built with a good number of pages and information – as a new site there was no reputation for Speke Travel on the internet. With no one yet linking back to the site and no one searching specifically for Speke, it was organically undiscoverable. With the help of our PPC campaigns skyrocketing the site to the top of the SERP, brand awareness grew, and traffic increased across other channels, namely direct and organic, resulting in a steady stream of free leads.

No previous database

Although Speke Travel had a collection of contacts, Speke was still a start-up without a database of previous customers. A fair amount of digital marketing can be enhanced with the use of a customer database, think targeted-remarketing, look-a-like audiences, increased bid modifiers, email marketing etc. Without this, we were working with pre-defined audiences from Google and website visitor lists – however, we first needed to drive users to the site, for the lists to be big enough to be used in our campaigns, resulting in top-of-funnel strategies to direct prospects to the site and leads to the client.

Our Approach

To combat the issue of high competition on PPC, we knew we couldn’t bid on generic keywords such as “Namibia holidays” due to high volume, high cost and high competition, our budget would exhaust very quickly. Instead, by using very targeted, longer-tailed keywords with lower cost-per-clicks and fewer people bidding on such terms, we were able to increase our visibility and maximise relevant click traffic. With incremental budget adjustments and optimisations over 2 years, we have seen positive results for Speke including an 80% increase in absolute top-of-page impression share. In addition, during January, travel’s peak booking period, we were able to drive a considerable amount of quality leads to the site, increasing our conversion rate MoM and leading to strong bookings that funded Speke’s ad spend for the rest of the year.

Tackling the lack of visibility across channels was two-fold. We launched a series of campaigns aimed at increasing brand awareness including Display, Performance Max and most recently Demand Generation. By utilising the client’s selection of incredible destination imagery, we were able to show aesthetically pleasing ads across a variety of sites and channels, resulting in an uplift in brand searches via direct and organic channels. The second approach for improving organic visibility was starting SEO work. This has been a recent venture, with hopes of improving website authority and keyword rankings in 2024. From September 2022 to January 2024, the site has increased 53% in organic impressions and 104% in organic clicks.

Finally, our approach to a lack of database users was to lean on 3rd-party audience data and the use of high-traffic campaigns to build up our website visitor lists. We set about laying on a variety of affinity, in-market and demographic audiences firstly on an observation basis, allowing us to view how users within each audience type performed without tailoring our targeting, then adding positive bid modifiers to the best-performing audiences. In addition to such pre-defined audience targeting, by running performance max and display campaigns we were able to drive more traffic to the site at a lower CPC allowing us to grow our “website visitor lists” which were then utilised in additional paid campaigns to encourage them back to the site to convert.

As outlined above, our approach to helping scale Speke Travel has consisted of a variety of tests and unique strategies based on specific client requirements. The combination of targeted PPC campaigns and now SEO has successfully grown Speke’s website traffic, leads and bookings so much so that the work we have carried out has helped secure the future of the business on a long-term scale, increase monthly ad budgets YoY by 600% for peak periods and enabled the expansion of the Speke Travel team.



branded searches from 2022 to 2023


organic users YoY


spend for 2023 generated from PPC

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