Gold Coast Gondolas has enjoyed almost two decades as one of the city’s ‘must do’ attractions, and we caught up with the brand-new owner Taryn Sims to talk running a successful business, family and following in her parents’ footsteps.
Tell us a bit about the background of Gold Coast Gondolas?
John and Val van Rensburg started Gold Coast Gondolas 18 years ago, just after they’d immigrated from South Africa. John and Val – my parents – had spotted similar gondolas during a weekend getaway at Mooloolaba, and they saw a huge potential for a similar business on the Gold Coast Waterways.
Why do you think so many tourists and locals love it?
There aren’t many places where you can dine with your partner in style and privacy whilst also enjoying stunning views by day, or shimmering lights at night. Nothing screams romance like a gondola cruise – it’s private, peaceful, luxurious and exclusive.
We just won the Gold Coast Business Excellence Award for Tourism, Hospitality and Events, which we’re so excited about and extremely grateful for.
You took over the business from your parents five months ago – were you very involved in the business before that, or have you really jumped into the deep end?
I worked for them for a little bit in my early twenties, so I had a pretty good understanding about the business, but otherwise we – me and my husband, Mike –have totally jumped in feet first.
Have you ever owned your own business before, or is this a totally new experience?
We currently also have two Godfrey’s Store’s (one in Bundall, and one in Burleigh), so we’ve got a bit of business experience. Since taking over the Gondolas we’ve found that it’s been really exciting to have the freedom and flexibility to do things how we want, which we’ve never been able to do with our other franchises. Its great working with happy customers who thoroughly enjoy the experience, and we love helping them celebrate their special occasions.
Is there anything that’s really surprised you since you’ve started running the business yourself, good or bad?
I get surprised by how many romantic guys there are on the Gold Coast! Most of the time, they book it as a surprise for their anniversary, their partner’s birthday or literally ‘just because’. We also get tons of proposals on board every month, so that’s always really exciting.
How do you juggle kids with running your own business, particularly a business as in demand as Gold Coast Gondolas?
Haha, I don’t think I do it very well… it’s very challenging at times, and I feel like I’m always running late. I’m lucky that my parents still help out with the business so we can have some family time, and my husband is also very hands-on with the kids – we have two girls, aged four and six. We’ve also just hired an au pair, so she’s been a huge help.
What did your parents teach you about business ownership? What will you pass onto your kids?
That you can have the freedom and flexibility to create the life that you truly desire – it can be very challenging and it involves a lot of hard work and long hours, but it’s also so rewarding.