Nigel Mason, and his wife Yanie, started out as a rafting operator 30 years ago and ended up with the successful one-stop destination Mason Adventures Bali – comprising the famed elephant park and lodge, helicopter tours, chocolate factory, jungle buggies and more. They share the secret of how a happy family can lead to a successful business.
Q: Have you always known that this is what you wanted to do?
Nigel: No, life’s a journey and it takes you to places. I started out in England, I went all around Australia, I’ve been all around Asia too, but when I arrived in Bali, I suddenly felt at home. Yanie and I have been lucky that we have the same vision between us, we’ve always known what we wanted to do, not years before it happens, but when it happens. The park was that sort of thing. We started it out really as a combination to our rafting. Very quickly, I decided that this was very special, that it needed to be its own separate identity. That’s when we started building the park as a full-on elephant safari park. We put the hotel here too. So, it become a total elephant experience, we have the museum, the gallery, so when people come here they’re not bored.
Q: What’s the secret behind your success?
N: I’ve been in Bali for 37 years, and Mason Adventures started 30 years ago. Our success is due to the tenacity to do things, but also it’s our imagination. I’ve always been the sort of person who wants to do something different, I never see things and say I want to copy that, I always look at things and think I can do something really different here. That’s what distinguishes the park. I purposely don’t go to the other places because I don’t want my mind polluted with other people’s ideas. We’re uniquely different because of that, I think.
Q: What drives you day to day?
N: It’s just that I love to work, I like to do the things that I have to do, I suppose it’s just enthusiasm for life and enthusiasm for my business. If you’re not enthusiastic about your business, how can you expect your staff to be?
Yanie: From the beginning we have always loved what we’re doing. We never have a target, oh we have to achieve this and that. Just love what we do and the rest comes along.
Q: How do you measure success?
N: I think it’s more about how well a business runs, not how much money it makes. It’s a balance more than anything else. It has to be a win-win for everybody. This park alone is a win-win for the community, for the elephants. Top priorities are to keep the business running well and for the guests to be happy. We’ll never be people who die with a lot of money, but we enjoy the work we do, we have a good lifestyle, that’s the most important thing to us.
Q: How do you incorporate your family life into the work life?
N: My sons were always brought up to believe that they could make choices by themselves. We never said that they had to grow up and take over the family business. However, both of them independently decided to come into the family business and they’re both very enthusiastic, very enthusiastic about it. The success of Yanie and I is because we work hard, we discuss things, we love the same things and we have a really close-knit family, I think that satisfaction in your personal life, rolls over into your business life. If you’re happy and successful in your own life, your business will be the same. I think that’s where we’ve been lucky. We’re side by side in mentality as well as physically.
Y: Especially when you have children, you have to give them role models, figures they can look up to. By that time, the staff can see how you are, and that hopefully reflects in the working environment too. Here, we all need each other, everyone should treat each other well, no matter what the position is – just like a family.
Q: Do you have any advice for those who want to start their tourist business in Bali?
N: The most important thing is, you have to really love what you’re going to do. Don’t go into anything unless you have the passion to do it. Because if you do it half-heartedly and you copy someone’s idea just to make money, it’ll never be successful.