AGENT superpower Triton has flexed its muscles by standing up to First Choice over commission payments – and revealed ABTA-level sponsorship packages for its inaugural conference.

First Choice broke off commercial negotiations with Triton last week after the consortium rejected the operator’s second offer of 10% base commission on both mainstream and specialist products.

Meanwhile, Triton has revealed the top sponsorship package for its first conference in May in Tenerife will cost £25,000 – just £2,500 less than ABTA charged for its 2005 convention.

Triton bosses labelled First Choice’s offer – a reduction in commission from 16% to 10% for sales of its specialist brands – as “derisory”.

Potential sales targets could have lifted the commission payments from 10% to 12%, but these were considered “unattainable” by Triton.

First Choice has now rolled out a flat 8% to most Triton agents, but is contacting top Triton sellers direct to negotiate individual deals.

Travel Weekly understands around 20% of Triton agents have individual deals in place with the operator of 10% or more commission.

Triton and Worldchoice chairman Colin Heal admitted First Choice was cherry-picking agents. “Members won’t refuse the deal when contacted directly but they will not promote the product,” claimed Heal.

Fellow Triton board director John McEwan, managing director of Advantage, said First Choice’s offer had been discussed with some members, who backed the stance by the alliance.

However, Advantage agent Clive Green Travel owner Clive Green claimed Triton should have accepted the deal. “Logic dictates you should come up with the volume before you get the high commissions”.

Triton’s tough stance – five months after it was launched – comes in the same week it announced conference sponsorship packages labelled “on the high side” by some operators.

Triton is set to raise £200,000 from its top 12 sponsorship packages – four at £25,000, four at £15,000 and a further four at £10,000 each. A basic operator package costs £1,500 at the May 5-9 event.

Superbreak sales director Ian Mounser admitted he had been priced out of the top sponsorship deals. “We want to be supportive and will try to be as long as the costs don’t get too heavy. However, the top packages are too high for us.”

However, Triton bosses defended the costs by claiming the conference is three in one, offering operators access to 700 agents in one go, rather than having to attend three separate events.

Meanwhile, the group is preparing to launch its own in-house tour operation by selling package holidays under the Triton Holidays brand.