Influential parent website will consider introducing travel agent and tour operator categories in its annual awards after endorsing nine travel firms in its inaugural accolades.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai were among the winners of the first Mumsnet Best awards.

The winners can use the site’s logo to endorse their website or brochures. It is the first time the logo has been licensed for use by other companies.

The review site has 1.25 million users and receives 300,000 hits a month from its online community of mums, the family member most likely to book a holiday.

It was set up 11 years ago after founder and mum-of-twins Justine Roberts went on a “disastrous, ‘family-friendly’ holiday”.

A spokeswoman said the site was continually assessing categories for reviews, on which its awards are based, and said an expansion of categories was likely.

“We would definitely look at agents and operators in 2011. We have not got reviews on travel agents at the moment,” she said. Online reviews and endorse-ment by user review sites are increasingly influential in consumers’ buying decisions.

Online PR consultant Laura Johnson, from specialist travel search agency Propellernet, said: “Sites such as Mumsnet and TripAdvisor are becoming more important than ever; already most people will search for reviews before making the final booking.

This week it became really topical with news that official star ratings for hotels could be superseded by online review scores.”
Companies should use any endorsement to maximum effect, she said, adding. “If a review site gives you an award, communicate it, as nothing carries as much weight as peer recommendations.”

Disney’s Animal Kingdom won best overseas theme park and Jumeirah Beach Hotel won best long-haul holiday. Scores from users were aggregated and weighted to work out the companies with the best ratings.