The hill town of Tirumala in India is home to the Sri Venkateswara Swamy Temple, the most visited Hindu temple in the world; every year, it welcomes more than 40 million visitors. Viewing the shrine of the Hindu god Venkateswara, an incarnation of Vishnu, is a sacred experience, and visitors were waiting in line an average of 10 hours for it.
Visitors could become uncomfortable with the long wait, complicated system and uncertainty of knowing when they’d get in. Some wanted management to speed up the process by changing the temple structure or limiting the number of people admitted, but others were passionately against any modifications with the potential to threaten tradition.
Temple management made efforts to improve the experience over a matter of years. Leaders implemented an announcement system, communicating the expected wait time in waiting rooms — known waits are perceived to be shorter than uncertain waits and may alleviate anxiety. They also offered free refreshments and religious television programming. VIP visits, which limited viewing times, were decreased.
Learn more about how management improved visitors’ perceptions of wait time and temple experience in Darden Professor Elliott N. Weiss, Senior Researcher Gerry Yemen and Steve Maiden’s article “On Wait Times, Taking a Queue From World’s Most Visited Hindu Temple,” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series.