The big four were not invited to Travel Counsellors’ annual conference this week because collectively they only account for 10% of the homeworking firm’s sales.

Travel Counsellors founder and chairman David Speakman revealed the big four – Thomson, First Choice, Thomas Cook and MyTravel – sales had dropped from more than 16% in 2005 to less than 10.5% in 2006.

MyTravel account for around 4% of sales, Thomson 3%, Thomas Cook 2.7% and First Choice 2.5%.

The reduction of sales in 2006 is linked partly to commission cuts from some of the big four and the introduction of Travel Counsellors’ dynamic packaging system Phenix, which now accounts for more than a quarter of sales.

Speakman said it was not worth the big four coming to Travel Counsellors annual conference on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas last weekend because they account for so little of its business.

Speakman said: “The big four came to the last conference and a couple of them were sponsors. We had other operators coming to us to be involved in the conference. Only Thomas Cook has not reduced our commissions – we do not make any money from the big four.

Speakman added if commission levels stay the same the big four’s sales could continue to decrease until either side decides it is no longer worth working together. 

“We both see each other as the middle man,” he said. “There may well come a time when they decide not to work with us or we decide not to work with them.”

Speakman threatened in May that Travel Counsellors was on the verge of ditching one of the big four, as exclusively revealed in Travel Weekly, but commercial agreements were maintained following talks.

For full coverage from the Travel Counsellors conference see this week’s Travel Weekly.