Everyone wants their vacation to be perfect, so they go to great lengths to find the right hotel to stay at while they're away. The trouble is, there are thousands of hotels in the listings for every major destination, and since you've never been there before, how do you know which one is the right hotel for you and the other members of your company? Wouldn't it be great if there was a home inspection service for hotels that went through every detail and reported honestly about the condition of the building and its amenities! In a sense, independent reviewers are like home inspectors for hotels, without the professional licensing.
There are plenty of people out there who have never read a hotel review in their lives because they think that the hotel's website and brochures will tell them everything they need to know. While it is true that most hotel owners are honest, some are not and will try to make their hotel look more attractive than it really is in the advertisements. Similarly, even honest hotel owners might not be able to mention in the ads if the hotel is undergoing renovations or has had a bed bug infestation for example. That's why you need an independent source.
There are several different sources from which you can get hotel reviews. If you pick up a travel magazine or watch a travel TV show for the area you're visiting, it will have hotel reviews from professional travel writers in it. And finally, the internet is a great source of hotel reviews. You can find them on travel agency websites like Expedia, on dedicated review sites like Trip Advisor, and sometimes even on the websites of hotels themselves.
The thing with any sort of review, though, is that it will naturally be biased. The person who wrote it has his or her own hang-ups and prejudices and reviews by nature are opinions. Two families can stay in the same room and come away with completely different opinions of it. So before you take the reviewer at his or her word that the hotel was no better than a local dive, seek confirmation from other reviewers. If you see three or four reviews that mention the same thing - that the hotel was very cold, for instance - you can take it as likely true.
Reviews are very helpful to travellers who don't have the time or money to vet everything for themselves. So once you return to your home, pay the favour forward and post your own reviews of the hotels you stayed at so that the next traveller can have the benefit of your experience. This is especially important if you disagree with the other reviews.