Former colleagues at Reed told C&IT they were shocked and saddened at the news.
Cotton's predecessor at RTE, Paul Kennedy, said her death was "simply tragic" and that the industry in the UK and Europe was saddened by the news.
Cotton was also an early adopter of CSR in the events industry and championed initiatives including the introduction of an environmental penalty scheme to discourage clients from using non-recyclable materials at the venue.
Reed Travel Exhibitions managing director Richard Mortimore said: "We at RTE are deeply shocked and saddened by the news of Vanessa's death. Our thoughts are with her family and friends. She was a true industry doyenne and contributed much to our team. She will be greatly missed in the meetings industry."
Excel London chief executive Kevin Murphy said: "Myself and the entire Excel London team are absolutely shocked and devastated at the news. Vanessa made a significant and transformational difference to our business. We will all remember her with great fondness."
MPi has issued a statement that said: "Vanessa's contributions as a champion of MPI's global evolution will long be remembered; but it is the warmth of her personality that will be missed by all who knew her. She served in roles on both the MPI board of directors and the executive committee. She was dynamic, clever, witty, glamorous, energetic and perceptive. Our thoughts and prayers go to Vanessa's family at this sad time."