“Nothing ever becomes real ’til it is experienced,” observed the English poet John Keats.

Experience matters. Researchers at Cornell University have found that experiences are what ultimately resonates most in our lives. No one remembers passing up a free lunch offer 20 years ago, but they do remember turning down a chance to experience the last concert by the Beatles.

Most of us value experiences as much as cash. The Cornell research shows that experiential purchases ultimately generate better results for consumers across a range of emotional and psychological factors. This suggests that experiential, non-cash rewards spark equally positive feelings and memories among reward earners too.

“People often think spending money on an experience is not as wise an investment as spending it on a material possession,” says Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell. “But, in reality, we remember experiences long afterward, while we soon become used to our possessions. At the same time, we also enjoy the anticipation of having an experience more than the anticipation of owning a possession.”

The Curio Collection by Hilton™

Experience is an increasingly important differentiating factor when it comes to choosing destinations for corporate meetings or reward trips. While hotels were once a jumping-off point for delegate experiences, some have become the main attraction.

This is the hallmark of Hilton’s Curio Collection, a global portfolio of remarkable hotels handpicked for their unique character and personality, appealing to curious travellers seeking authentic experiences.

The Curio Collection taps into what some travel experts call the “curious gene.” The genetic predisposition to travel is associated with a gene variant known as DRD4-7R. While only about 20 percent of humans have the so-called “wanderlust gene,” many of us have an innate curiosity to explore new places. A recent survey by Hilton found that 91 percent of people consider themselves naturally curious, and 73 percent say traveling is a primary outlet for that curiosity.

Curio Collection by Hilton went further with the study to evaluate how being curious plays a role in the kinds of travel experience we seek. Working with a lab and research partner, they determined which of around 30 social media influencers in travel have the “curious gene” and identified five different types of curiosity. The results helped create the Are You Curious? quiz, a fun social media tool that helps you define what kind of traveller you are.

Our Resort, Your Kingdom

A standout destination in the Curio Collection for satisfying wanderlust is La Bagnaia Golf & Spa Resort, in the heart of Tuscany, close to Siena and San Gimignano. Available to book in its entirety as a private retreat, the resort offers endless options for a truly exceptional event-of-the-year experience for delegates. Once a medieval hamlet, the resort has preserved its authentic Tuscan style, with elegant interior design and architecture, and exquisite views of the local landscape and nearby Siena. Delegates are free to enjoy unforgettable experiences across the historic property and beyond, from gala dinners under the stars to its world-class golf course, live music, quad racing, wellness days at the spa, hikes in the lush Italian countryside and more.

Off the beaten track

Meanwhile, in Turin, delegates at the DoubleTree by Hilton Turin Lingotto can experience what it feels like to race one of Italy’s classic car brands, the FIAT–on the roof of their hotel. Located in a former FIAT factory, the hotel gives delegates exclusive access to a three-quarter-mile rooftop test track built in the 1920s. Racing here remains a must-do for car enthusiasts and adventure travelers worldwide, and a popular booking option for meeting and event planners in search of one-of-a-kind experiences.

Swing sports

For a unique experience of life in ancient Rome and the Colosseum, delegates at the Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, can learn how to swing a traditional gladius sword and other authentic combat techniques from instructors from Rome’s Gladiator School. The experience features all the essential regalia, including traditional tunic, Roman sandals, belt, protective gloves, and wooden swords.

But if golfing is more on par with what the team enjoys, the Waldorf Astoria Trianon Palace Versailles offers a chance to play the same championship course that hosted the 2018 Ryder Cup. The iconic French hotel, within walking distance of the Chateau de Versailles, opened in 1910. For more than century, it has been a magnet for royalty and celebrities in search of fantastic experiences.

For meeting and event planners, creating memorable experiences is a balance of art and science. “We believe in the power of curiosity and its ability to transform the way we live, learn and travel,” says Mark Nogal, global head of the Curio Collection by Hilton. “Whether it’s across state lines, across the ocean, or even in the places they call home, we want people to experience something unexpected and customized to their specific travel preferences.”

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