Woman, 55, had ‘lightbulb moment’. Then travel side hustle took off like a bat out of hell | Personal Finance | Finance newsbhunt


Just a few years ago Vikki, 55, barely knew how to switch a computer on. Now she routinely books up to 2,000 people onto cruise ships to view a hugely popular rock show tribute to rock legend Meatloaf and songwriter Jim Steinman, which involves booking every single guest on board individually. “People often underestimate me,” she says.

Vikki’s had a colourful career as a driving instructor, managing petrol stations in some of the most crime-ridden areas of the UK and running pubs that the police had previously closed down due to disturbances.

In every situation, quiet, mild-mannered Vikki managed to turn risky situations into successful businesses.

There were some hairy moments, though. “I’ve been caught up in robberies and shootings while running petrol stations and pubs, but my new job is the scariest thing I’ve done. I saw an opportunity and went for it.“

Aged 42, Vikki decided she wanted to do something herself, rather than spend her life running businesses for others.

So said goodbye to her grown-up children and grandchildren and joined cruise ships, working on Carnival, NCL and P&O. “I absolutely loved it and enjoyed seeing the world on the industry’s new launches,” she says.

Following her passion for travel, Vikki joined The Travel Franchise in January last year, which helps people set up their own franchise businesses.

She started by training as a Not Just Travel homeworking travel consultant, completing her training in days, and became a travel agent offering fully protected holidays. 

One night she had what she calls her “lightbulb moment”.

In February 2022, Vikki bought a ticket to see Vampire Rock, a tribute to Bat out of Hell singer Meatloaf, created by musician Steve Steinman.

She struck up a conversation with the woman sitting next to her who said it was the fifth time she had seen the show that year. It was only February.

Vikki thought the woman was crazy, until the show started. “I was blown away by the music, comedy, production and singing, but also by how dedicated and loyal the audience was.”

Vikki knew at once that this would be amazing on a cruise. “I knew the type of performances that go down really well, having previously worked on Norwegian Cruise Lines’ ship Breakaway.”

That night, she found Steve via his Facebook group, which has 17,000 followers, and messaged him saying “I’ve seen your show and thought it was fantastic. Have you thought about performing on a cruise?” 

He immediately texted back “What have you got in mind?”

Vikki says: “I was thrilled yet so nervous as I’d never booked a cruise before. Let alone helped put on a huge performance for thousands of people.”

Now she will bring one of his shows on board the MSC’s British Isles Cruise onboard the Virtuosa, departing Southampton on September 24, 2024.

Steve’s show, Anything for Love – the Meat Loaf Story is based on the music of Meat Loaf and features Lorraine Crosby, the vocalist who accompanies the singer on the original single “I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)”.

The show is exclusive to Vikki’s clients. Only they can see the show onboard the ship.

Luckily, Vikki didn’t have to go it alone. Not Just Travel’s Cruise Division supported her, and helped work on her computer skills too.

READ MORE: Woman to make extra £2k thanks to Christmas tree decorating side hustle

“I hadn’t used computers or email except on my phone and taking on the cruise booking system would have been a bit overwhelming. They also have dealt with negotiations and legal agreements. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without them.”

Once Vikki had carried out her first few bookings she quickly got to grips with the system, and her leap of faith proved lucrative. 

Steve’s loyal following has meant that Vikki has booked hundreds of people onto the cruise without spending a single penny on marketing. “People love him. They go to every one of his shows, which sell out faster than Tom Jones.” 

One Facebook post resulted in 180 enquiries, Vikki says. “I’m working day and night, seven days a week to take bookings. I know that once these clients go on their first cruise, they will be back to book other ones with me. This is a long-term plan for me.”

Ultimately, she’s doing it for partner Frank Keoghan. “Frank has worked on oil rigs for 35 years and his knees have worn out climbing all the stairs. I want him off the rigs and home as soon as possible. My business will help that happen.”

Vikki will do anything for love, including learning how to use a computer. “I can definitely do that,” she says.


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