Industry Connections


What the Army Taught Me about Destination Services

The military is a great teacher. Its lessons are far-reaching, long-lasting, and truly transcendent. The U.S. Army helped me to establish a firm foundation of service, passion, and dependability that would later become standard operating procedure for the ensuing phases of my career in destination services.

1 March 2021

Ed. Note: John L. Merriweather is the President and CEO of Go Destination Services, based in Carmel Indiana, which he founded in 1998.  GO is a valued member of Bristol’s worldwide “BristolNet” Supplier-Partner service chain. We are proud and grateful to John and the entire GO organization for partnering with Bristol to deliver world-class global relocation services to our clients and customers.

John launched his career in the United States Army in 1990, where he served proudly for three years including a tour in Operation Desert Storm. Here, John shares lessons and insights into leadership and service delivery that he learned while serving our country.


Because the institution of the military is so different from the destination service profession, you might think that its lessons don’t have application for the wonderful world of relocation. Such thinking would be a booby-trap.

As an eighteen year old kid with equal parts ambition and naiveté, the United States Army helped me to establish a firm foundation of service, passion, and dependability that would later become standard operating procedure for the ensuing phases of my career in destination services.

In fact, the educational imperatives that were instilled in me from serving three years in the US Army, including a tour in Desert Storm, have had direct and impactful instruction for my destination service discipline of nearly twenty years.

Here are five lessons the United States Army taught me about destination services:

Maintain Discipline
In both the military and the destination service profession, having disciplined systems is critical. It produces a consistent experience for clients, associates, and business partners.

Take Care of Your People.
Whether you wear a camouflaged uniform or dress business casual, people make all the difference. Taking care of co-workers and clients, whether you are in an official leadership position or not, creates loyalty, results, and successful relationships.

Plan Well – But Be Ready and Willing to Change the Plan
A good, well thought out plan is hard to beat, but a well-conceived plan with built-in flexibility is even better. When it comes to destination service, things change including rental budgets, schedules, preferences, expectations, and circumstances in general.

Leave No Soldier Behind.
The destination service equivalent to “leave no soldier behind” is that we never leave relocating associates to fend for themselves in unfamiliar territory. From home-finding to school searches, you must fight dutifully to ensure that associates on-the-move are successfully settled in their new environment.

Communicate Thoroughly.
In the US Army, good communication will save your six (your butt). Poor communication, however, places you and your comrades in harm's way. Under tutelage of the Army, soldiers are trained to communicate thoroughly, regularly, and quite effectively. The same mandate applies to destination service. In fact, communication may be the single most important act of the destination service professional.

When it comes to destination service, the Army is a wise old sage. Its lessons are valuable and instructive. It teaches us to maintain disciplined systems, to care for people, and to create plans that are firm yet flexible. Through lessons that are clear and concise, it instructs us to ensure that associates on-the-move are connected to their new cities. Finally, the military commands us to communicate clearly and concisely - as communication is central to effective destination service.

The military is a professor of best practice. You can learn a lot about successful global destination service from the practices of the United States Army. I did.

John L. Merriweather is CEO and President of GO Destination Services.  John may be reached at: 317.559.3225, email:


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