How the Dr Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Leveraged True Tickets to Presell 774 Tickets for $85K with Zero Marketing Spend

Matthew Zarracina
3 min readApr 15, 2024
Credit Nick Smith — Dr Phillips Center

On January 27, 2024 the Dr. Phillips Center was gearing up to host six highly anticipated and sold-to-capacity live music concerts for “The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. Earlier that day, their programming team also confirmed the second installment of the live music concert series, “The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers” to begin on August 9, 2024. This opportunity gave the arts center team less than 48 hours to think through how to market the August shows to the passionate fanbase about to grace their lobby.

Here’s the story about how they were able to leverage True Tickets to presell 774 tickets to guests who attended the January performance — ultimately generating $85K in revenue with zero dollars spent on marketing.

The Dilemma: A Short Runway Jeopardizes an Incredible Opportunity

In recent decades, live movie concerts have become cash cows for orchestras. While expensive to produce, the investment can pay off quickly. As producer-manager Pirmin Zangerle told Variety, they “attract a wide audience: film music lovers, film lovers, young people, families.” As each show has the potential to gross over $250K for the Center, the pressure to fill seats and maximize revenue is immense.

In the dynamic world of live event venues, effective marketing is the lifeblood of success. However, traditional marketing avenues like SEO, ads, and promotional campaigns can be expensive and time-consuming — requiring meticulous strategy, planning and execution. With less than 48 hours before the first performance, traditional marketing methods and channels were simply not an option for the team at the Dr. Philips Center.

The Solution: Leverage the Ticket as an Active Marketing Tool

With the clock ticking, the team realized they had a remarkable opportunity to market directly to the actual guests attending the show. The bonus, this would be at no cost. With True Tickets, the arts center was able to actively engage guests (even those whose tickets had been shared with others) that attended the show with their digital tickets. The Dr. Phillips Center’s team decided to create a special link to an “Exclusive Offer” on the ticket. The link directed guests to purchase pre-sale tickets to the second installment of the Lord of the Rings series seven months in advance. This seamlessly integrated an upsell opportunity into the ticket itself to reach the vested audience. The arts center had done this in the past with parking passes and other pre-show upsells, but this was the first time they decided to offer a post-show upsell option.

The Results: Pre-selling Success with Zero Marketing Spend

The Dr. Phillips Center team didn’t’ know what to expect, but as patrons exited the arts center, there was a huge uptick in ticket pre-sales for the second Lord of the Rings installment between 10:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. All in, the arts center pre-sold 774 tickets, totaling $85,000 in revenue and blowing away expectations. While this outcome would have been a success seven to eight weeks out from a performance, hitting that mark seven months out is unheard of!

What’s more remarkable is that this feat was accomplished without allocating a single dollar to traditional marketing channels. By tapping into the inherent value of the ticket itself and its ability to uniquely engage actual attendees, the arts center unlocked a new way to generate revenue while alleviating the strain on their marketing department.

Unveiling the Insights: Zero Marketing Spend, Maximum Impact

At the heart of this success story lies a profound realization: the ticket is much more than a mere entry pass — it’s a gateway to unparalleled patron engagement. Credit to the team at the Dr. Phillips Center for uniquely leveraging True Tickets’ capabilities in an innovative and transformative way to engage their guests. As cultural institutions seek to better understand how digital tools like True Tickets can help drive their success for decades to come, the Dr. Phillips Center serves as a beacon of inspiration, proving that with innovation and determination, anything is possible. This success story is one defined by creativity, efficiency and out-of-the-box thinking.



Matthew Zarracina

Co-founder & CEO of True Tickets | reader, rower, & former pilot | amateur ball player & guitarist | full-time husband & dad | intellectually curious by nature