12,000 Gallons of Gas for Free

"Our church is based in one of the highest areas of unemployment, especially among African-American men," said the church's pastor, the Rev. James T. Meeks, who is also a state senator. "The small percentage of individuals with jobs endure the longest commute time to work in the state. … We want to do good in our community but we also have to do what's necessary in times like this."

Targeting Tourists

Most gas promotions, however, are linked to travel.

Businesses that rely on travelers to drive to their location often try everything to offset a vacationer's added gas expenses.

The state of Illinois tourism bureau is giving away $25 gas cards to anybody who books their trip through its Web site. It is also offering a contest to win gas for a year, which it pegs at $2,500.

Choice Hotels, which includes Comfort Inn, Econo Lodge and Rodeway Inn, is offering guests a $50 gas card after three separate stays at its hotels.

So do these incentives really work?

John Fareed, a travel marketing consultant in Winter Park, Fla., doesn't think so.

"Consumers are very savvy and they know they're paying for it one way or another," Fareed said.

With many gas deals out there, one cancels out the other, he said, leaving consumers to choose a room on the normal criteria: price, amenities and location.

Fareed said that the sticker shock of gas prices had faded and that most Americans were still taking road trips despite the prices.

As for giving away a tanker full of gas, Fareed said it was a "clever" promotion but no different that having a large cash jackpot.

"Every day," he said, "there is a drawing or prize on the table at a casino, whether it's a car or cash."

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