Before 2006 he had been an outspoken critic about many industry practices, including ABC auditing, which is required for AEO membership.
Soar said: "I am honoured to take over the chairmanship of the AEO at a time of transition as the association focuses on the issues that really matter to members. In the next 12 months the AEO will make promoting the industry its priority, driving activity through the EIA that influences the people who spend money on events."
Soar succeeds Brenda Daly who resigned as chairman when she left DMG World Media. Daly has since joined Reed Exhibitions UK.