Nathan Foy is founder and CEO of Fortis, a luxury travel company that provides over 25,000 private, secure trips in 114 countries every year. With a clientele worth over half a trillion dollars, and offices in the US and Hong Kong, if there’s anyone who knows the travel habits and requirements of the billionaires, it’s Nathan.
We sat down with Nathan recently and asked him about some of the travel tips, and incredible stories he’s accumulated over his 20 years in the billionaire travel business.
How did you get into the luxury travel business?
I quite literally, failed into it. Fortis began as a prepaid taxicab card for college students, pre-9/11. We built a network of taxi companies up and down the east coast and were selling to parents of incoming students in the fall of 2001. Then 9/11 happened and we had to change or go under. We started selling taxis to private aviation and they responded they wanted chauffeured cars. In early 2002, we pivoted to high end clients and haven’t looked back.
What does Fortis do that is different from other high-end transportation companies?
Fortis combines concierge service for chauffeurs and security with a risk-based approach to security. The result is that high achievers accomplish more when they travel with us.
What are three travel tips you have for luxury travelers?
Use a travel alias. Even if you think you’re low profile, the internet has a way of unmasking you. We have a horde of teenage girls tracking a principal in the Caribbean, and he wasn’t high profile. He then took our recommendation.
Favorite your best service providers and make sure they’re around for when you come back to your favorite destinations. At Fortis, our clients can favorite their best chauffeurs and we’ll remember them. Otherwise, tip them more and make sure they’re there for you when you return. This is how your favorite spots become an extension of home.
Always have satellite communications through either a phone or text device like a Bivy stick. You won’t have to worry about cell coverage and privacy and you can only talk when you like.
Where’s your favorite place to visit?
Tuscany. I love the food, the people, and the landscape.
Tell us one of your most outrageous client experiences.
We had a client who wanted us to help him publicly fire an Indian executive in the lobby of the hotel in which our client was staying. Everything about this was wrong - India is an honor culture and public shows of dismissal are dangerous, especially when you stay behind for days in the same location. Fortunately, we counseled him to do it privately and leave town right away and he took our advice.
What do you never leave home without?
My vanishing-point fountain pen. It helps my ideas flow and it’s a pretty sharp object if protection is needed.
What is something your clients never leave home without?
Their mobile phone.
What is the most outlandish or exotic request you’ve ever had from a client and were you able to provide it?
We had a client request a custom armored SUV in New York with a safe installed in the back. We were in the process of coordinating it when other events in his life got in the way.
What’s the most dangerous trip one of your drivers has undertaken?
We served a media mogul in India during riots in Mumbai. We provided executive protection, translation, and coordination with police to avoid the hot zones. She had a productive trip, even though at first, she was skeptical that protection was needed. When she returned, she called the agent a “lifesaver”.
What is the biggest misconception the general public has about providing a service to the billionaires?
That it’s about showy, fawning service. It’s about discreetly serving them to help them achieve more by maximizing their time.
Describe the kinds of training your drivers must complete before they can work for you?
We work with chauffeurs rather than drivers. A driver is someone who takes you from A to B. A chauffeur helps you accomplish more with your day. Most chauffeurs are recommended by a trusted service provider. Then they are mystery ridden by someone we trust. Then they may start doing rides, with training coming through our Partner conferences where we instruct them on the Fortis brand and how to lead clients to higher service. The broad outline of how they are trained is in What Rich Clients Want: (But Won’t Tell You), my book released last September.