TripEdge morphs into human-powered travel search, aims to outfox FlightfoxNewsBy Sean O'Neil | September 4, 2012Share This article was originally published on Startups pivot. Experienced founders and investors know that. So it's unsurprising that a B2C startup like TripEdge would pivot for a third time, especially as it tries to find a popular solution to a big problem like travel search. What is surprising, though, is that this UK startup is pivoting to human-powered travel search, similar to what the Australian startup Flightfox is doing.While Big Data solutions grab headlines, TripEdge is instead surfing a cross-current in another direction - toward a people-power approach. TripEdge plans to crowdsource holiday-planning assistance from registered vacation experts, many of whom are experienced travel agents.When Tnooz first profiled TripEdge in March 2011, its proposition was different, of course.It then aimed to be a consumer-to-agent referral service, a.k.a., a lead generation web service for UK travel agents.For 18 months, it tried signing up independent UK travel agents that hold ABTA credentials to supply holiday quotes via email to its customers, charging a listing monthly, subscription-based fee for access to qualified leads. It was one of a recent startups that aimed at helping agents, such as commission-based (and unsuccessful) holidaycrowd.com, free (and surviving) site Make Me a Holiday, and free customer-agent video chat messaging service (and thriving) seeyourtravelagent.com. But it was unsuccessful in gaining travel agent support. In March, TripEdge experimented with being a deals newsletter service. But that proved to be a tough field to plow.Now there's a new plan. Early next year, TripEdge's site will relaunch as a fresh service.Here's how it will work:A customer will start a 'contest' by providing their holiday details and committing a finder's fee. Contests last for 3 days. Then, travel experts that have signed up to provide vacation quotes compete to find the best holiday deals.The customer then chooses a winner, follows their booking instructions, and (hopefully) feels that they purchased holiday at the best price.The TripEdge website currently has a sign up for consumers to be included in the beta which will launch near the end of this year. "A dedicated mobile website is also planned," says Robert Wheeler, founder.TripEdge will need to compete with Flightfox, which has found some traction in the human-powered travel search space since its launch a little over a year ago.Will the pivot work? Instagram began as a micro-blogging thing called Burbn, shifted in a social network direction, and then eventually found success by focusing on, and refining, the one part of its product that was popular: photo sharing. The third time may be the charm for TripEdge, too.