Technology adds new flavour, bidding wars to Red Deer Festival of Trees

By Murray Crawford

Advocate Staff

Embracing technology has added a new dimension to the Festival of Trees, including auction bidding wars by phone.

Two ways the Festival of Trees has used, and will use, technology this year are text bidding and through an organized, year-round social media campaign.

Cynthia de Boer, Red Deer Regional Health Foundation marketing director, highlighted the volunteer social media team that has come on board this year.

“We knew it was important to getting our message out,” said de Boer. “We put together a team of people who are going to post and hashtag their way through the festival to not only promote the fun of festival, but that it is ultimately for a cause.”

This year the cause is enhancing client care and medical services at the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre’s Medical Specialty Clinic. Last year festival raised about $1-million for the first first phase of clinic.

Through the team, the festival has made a greater effort to reach out to the community. Though the event is already immensely popular in Red Deer, the social media team has only enhanced that. The team is a diverse group of eight volunteers ranging from a teen to parents.

But what they hope will most benefit the event and those who come out to it, is the text 2 bidding model adopted this year.

Rather than writing down bids on pieces of paper at each tree, then returning later to find out a higher bid has been replaced, this year the bidding will be done by phone.

“I played with it before hand and its great,” said de Boer. “You can put your bids in, you can donate to the cause from home.

“It tells you when you’ve been outbid too.”

Text 2 Bid allows people to bid from their bed if they need to, in order to secure the tree or item they covet at this year’s event.

Debbie Coleman, Festival of Trees board member, said the ability to bid throughout festival may help fuel some competition.

“I hope that’s the case because competition drives up the price,” said Coleman.

They had employed Text 2 Bid two years ago at the 2014 Festival of Trees. After returning to the old pen and paper method last year, the committee decided to press forward and adopt the new technology.

The festival starts on Wednesday with the preview dinner and runs until Sunday at the Westerner Park.

mcrawford@bprda.wpengine.com

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